Liquid crystal (LC) photo-alignment using azo-dyes is reviewed. This alignment method is very different from previously reported ones, which are due to mechanisms such as photo-crosslinking, photo degradation, and photo-isomerization. We present the basic physical mechanisms of the photo-induced orientational order in various photo-aligning materials and in azo-dye layers in particular. This method is based on rotational diffusion in a potential created by the light field as well as intermolecular forces. It will be shown that this photo-aligning method can provide a controllable pretilt angle and strong anchoring energy of the LC cell, as well as having high thermal and ultraviolet (UV) stability. The application of this method to the alignment and fabrication of various types of LC displays is also discussed.
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