We report on what we believe is the first demonstration of an optically activated cantilever due to photomechanical effects in a dye-doped polymer optical fiber. The fiber is observed to bend when light is launched off-axis. The displacement angle monotonically increases as a function of the distance between the illumination point and the fiber axis and is consistent with differential light-induced length changes. The photothermal and photoreorientation mechanisms, each with its own distinct response time, are proposed to explain the observed time dependence. The measured degree of bending is consistent with a model that we have proposed that includes coupling of photoisomerization and heating. Most importantly, we have discovered that at high light intensity, a cooperative release of stress results in cis-to-trans isomerization that yields a large and abrupt length change.
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