Abstract

We show for what is believed to be the first time that it is possible to generate 10,000 rapid write, read, and erase cycles optically in an azobenzene sidechain liquid-crystalline polyester. We do this by exposing the film alternately to visible light from an argon laser at 488 nm and ultraviolet light from a krypton laser at 351 nm. The efficiency of the system shows several exponential decays, presumably associated with the azobenzene chromophores’ aligning out of the plane of the film and the lifetime of the cis state of the azobenzene. A local temperature increase may also play a role. However, there is enough contrast even after 10,000 cycles to permit a clear distinction between the maximum and the minimum anisotropy. As the anisotropy is stable between erasures, this method could have immediate applications for optical storage.

© 1996 Optical Society of America

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