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Kinetic Monte Carlo simulations for birefringence relaxation of
photo-switchable molecules on a surface
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Recent experiments have demonstrated that in a dense monolayer of
photo-switchable dye methyl-red molecules the relaxation of an initial birefringence follows a
power-law decay, typical for glass-like dynamics. The slow relaxation can
efficiently be controlled and accelerated by illuminating the monolayer with circularly
polarized light, which induces trans-cisisomerization
cycles. To elucidate the microscopic mechanism, we develop a two-dimensional
molecular model in which the trans and cis isomers are represented by straight and bent needles,
respectively. As in the experimental system, the needles are allowed to rotate and to
form overlaps but they cannot translate. The out-of-equilibrium rotational dynamics of
the needles is generated using kinetic Monte Carlo simulations. We demonstrate that,
in a regime of high density and low temperature, the power-law relaxation can be
traced to the formation of spatio-temporal correlations in the rotational dynamics,
i.e., dynamic heterogeneity. We also show that the nearly isotropic
cis isomers can prevent dynamic
heterogeneity from forming in the monolayer and that the relaxation then becomes
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