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Pure Appl. Chem., 2001, Vol. 73, No. 4, pp. 639-665


Organic photochromism (IUPAC Technical Report)

Henri Bouas-Laurent1 and Heinz Dürr2

1 Laboratoire de Chimie Organique et Organométallique, Groupe de Photochimie Organique, CNRS, UMR 5802, Université Bordeaux 1, F-33405 Talence Cedex, France
2 FR 11.2 Organische Chemie, Universität des Saarlandes, Postfach 151150, D-66041 Saarbrücken, Germany

Abstract: This technical report is a general introduction to organic photochromism. The definition of photochromism (PC) is given together with that of words with the ending "chromism", such as thermo-, electro-, piezo-, and tribochromism. Important concepts such as two-photon, gated, dual-mode PC and chirochromism are illustrated. The concept of fatigue (chemical degradation) and the determination of the main photochromic parameters (number of cycles, cyclability, half-life), and the spectrokinetic and mechanistic aspects are discussed. The main families of PC (organic compounds and biological receptors) are illustrated with chemical formulae, and the different types of reactions involved in the photochromic processes (pericyclic reactions, E/Z isomerization, group transfer, etc.) are listed. Some examples of applications to "optical power limiting" substances, photoresponsive materials, and photoswitchable biomaterials are considered.