Mystery of How Light Beams Become Frozen in Azobenzene

In many ways, azobenzene is an ordinary kind of organic molecule. It consists of two benzene rings joined together by a pair of double-bonded nitrogen atoms. This gives it a kind of butterfly-like appearance—a pair of benzene ‘wings’ with the nitrogens acting as a hinge. What’s unusual about azobenzene is that when it is bombarded…