(J. Am. Chem. Soc. abstract, "A simple class of photorheological fluids - Surfactant solutions with viscosity tunable by light")
"Photorheological (PR) fluids, i.e., those with light-tunable rheological properties, may be useful in a variety of applications, such as in sensors and microfluidic devices. Currently, the need to synthesize complex photosensitive molecules hampers the applicability of these fluids. Here, we report a simple class of PR fluids that require no special synthesis and can be easily replicated in any lab from inexpensive chemicals. The fluids consist of the cationic surfactant, cetyl trimethylammonium bromide (CTAB), and the photoresponsive organic derivative, trans
-methoxycinnamic acid (OMCA). Aqueous mixtures of CTAB and OMCA in basic solution self-assemble into long, wormlike micelles. Upon irradiation by UV light (trans to its cis
form, which alters the molecular packing at the micellar interface. The result is to transform the long micelles into much shorter entities and, in turn, the solution viscosity decreases by more than 4 orders of magnitude
. Small-angle neutron scattering (SANS) is used to confirm the dramatic reduction in micellar length. The extent of viscosity reduction in these PR fluids can be tuned based on the composition of the mixture as well as the duration of the irradiation."