Optical Switches

Observing Structural Changes of Optical-Memory Materials with Solid-State NMR

Optical switch materials are gaining interest in the scientific community because of their use in photolithography, data storage, photoresists, and solar energy storage. Because of their applicability, an understanding is needed of the mechanisms by which solids change their structure when irradiated with light. Our work focuses on using solid-state nuclear magnetic resonance (SS-NMR) spectroscopy to elucidate structural changes in optical-switching solids when irradiated with light.

[2+2] Photodimerization of a-trans-cinnamic acid


We are currently investigating crystals of cinnamic acid, a compound which undergoes the known [2 + 2] photocycloaddition reaction to form truxillic acid. We use cinnamic acid as a model compound in order to understand the kinetics and mechanism of photoreactive solids in general. We try to address issues such as the rate/reversibility of the photoreaction, the dimensionality of the growth of the photoproduct phase, and intermediates that may be key in the fate of the photo reaction.

Single crystal rotations of photoreactive cinnamic acid