Liquid crystals are widely employed as stimuli‐responsive materials. Liquid crystallinity can be retained in polymeric form. Photoinduced mechanical effects in liquid crystalline polymer networks and elastomers have been a topic of considerable recent research. This review details the historical underpinnings and recent advances in the synthesis and the corresponding photomechanical response of these materials. In nearly all cases, the conversion of light into mechanical work has employed azobenzene as either a guest additive or covalently attached to the network. © 2018 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J. Polym. Sci., Part B: Polym. Phys. 2018.
Light is readily synthesized and controllable. In this way, light has been shown as a promising means to induce mechanical responses in materials. One of the most common methods is reviewed herein by Timothy J. White, focusing on the materials chemistry and physics of azobenzene‐functionalized liquid crystalline polymer networks and elastomers. This review is adapted from a chapter in an edited book on the topic, “Photomechanical Materials, Composites, and Systems.”