Controlling Liquid Motion using Donor Acceptor Stenhouse Adduct Photochromic Dyes

Tech ID: 31947 / UC Case 2020-055-0


Light-responsive dyes have traditionally required patterned surfaces of electrochemically activated particles, plasmonic nanoparticles, and complex nanostructures. Unfortunately, these features limit the production and adoption of these systems because they are not only difficult and expensive to synthesize, but also because they only work in aqueous solvents, and rely on UV light. While other conventional systems rely on an induced chemical gradient generated by a particle/surface interaction, this method is restricted to short time scale pumping or particle rearrangement because of a limited amount of reactive material. Thus, these approaches are inefficient, expensive, and lack the ability to be spatially directed for fine control over flow in specific regions. 


Researchers at the University of California, Santa Barbara have identified unique features of a highly absorbing donor acceptor Stenhouse adducts (DASAs) negative photochromes that demonstrate self-regulating flow fields and unparalleled control of particle motion. Using low intensity light sources (e.g., LEDs) and irradiation, a low concentration DASA solution dissolved in one of many accessible organic solvents induces spatially-controlled convective flows reaching velocities of 10 mm/s. In addition, DASA employs a solvent-dependent photoswitching functionality that further enables a unique degree of self-regulation independent of material availability. As such, DASA offers an affordable convective tool that can be used in myriad applications with a high degree of control that current systems are unable to achieve.


  • Reduces material costs
  • Increases particle control
  • Commercially scalable


  • Particulate Control
  • Chemical Sensing
  • Nanochemical Motors
  • Fluid Pumping
  • Colloidal Assembly

Patent Status

Patent Pending


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Other Information


flow field, photoswitching, DASA, convective flow, particulate, liquid control

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