Photomigration in azo polymers is an area of research that witnessed intensive studies owing to its potential in optical manipulation, e.g., optical tweezing, the physical mechanism of which remains unsolved since its discovery about two decades ago. In this paper, a detailed theoretical study that reproduces the phenomena associated with photomigration is presented, including the physical models and the associated master equations. Polarization effects are discussed and analytical solutions are given to describe the steady-state and the dynamics of photomigration. Such a theory leads to new theoretical experiments relating material properties to light action. A photoisomerization force which is described by a spring-type model is introduced. This force is derived from a harmonic light potential that moves the azo polymer. This force is parenting to optical tweezers, but it is quite different in the sense that it requires photoisomerization to occur. The azo polymer’s motion is governed by four competing forces: the photoisomerization force, and the restoring optical gradient and elastic forces, as well as the random forces due to spontaneous diffusion.
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