Ionic crystals (ICs) of the azobenzene derivatives show photoinduced IC-ionic liquid (IL) phase transition (photoliquefaction) upon UV-irradiation, and the resulting cis-azobenzene ILs are reversibly photocrystallized by illumination with visible light. The photoliquefaction of ICs is accompanied by a significant increase in ionic conductivity at ambient temperature. The photoliquefaction also brings the azobenzene ICs further significance as photon energy storage materials. The cis-IL shows thermally induced crystallization to the trans-IC phase. This transition is accompanied by exothermic peaks with a total ΔH of 97.1 kJmol-1, which is almost double the conformational energy stored in cisazobenzene chromophores. Thus, the integration of photoresponsive ILs and self-assembly pushes the limit of solar thermal batteries.
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