Dendrimers can behave as active functional materials, if they are substituted at their tail ends by azo groups. The dendrimers we developed spontaneously attach to interfaces or surfaces, providing us with a variety of functions. After describing the synthesis of dendrimers and azodendrimers, we first review functions for static uses; alignment surface for liquid crystals (LCs). Then, a major part of this review is devoted to the introduction for dynamic uses. Because of photo-induced trans-cis isomerization, the azodendrimers act as a command surface, which enables us to control LC orientation. Azodendrimer layers were formed at glass substrates, LC droplets in polymers, and surfaces of microparticles in LCs. Photo-controlled trans- and cis-forms, respectively, provide homeotropic and planar orientations of LCs. The photo-irradiation induces dewetting of dendrimer layers as well. Photo-induced orientation changes of LCs provide us with various applications and novel phenomena; photo-controlled macroscopic physical properties such as thermal transport, defect structure changes in LC colloids and LC systems with microinclusions, and even dynamics of inclusions in LCs.
Part of the book: Dendrimers