Journal of the Optical Society of America B: Optical Physics

Orientationally enhanced photorefractive effect in polymers

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We present experimental data that show that the greatly improved performance of a new class of photorefractive polymers [see Donckers et al., Opt. Lett. 18, 1044 (1993)] is too large to be explained by the simple electro-optic photorefractive effect alone. In these materials a photoconducting polymer host is doped with a small concentration of a sensitizer and a large concentration of a nonlinear optical chromophore that has orientational mobility at ambient temperatures. We present a theoretical model for a new orientational enhancement mechanism in which both the birefringence of the sample and the electro-optic coefficient are periodically modulated by the space-charge field itself. The predictions of this model for the size of the enhancement (which is greater than an order of magnitude in diffraction efficiency), the polarization anisotropy between p-polarized and s-polarized readout, and the presence of index modulation at twice the grating wave vector are in good agreement with the measured properties. This orientational enhancement mechanism should be important in any system in which the nonlinear optical chromophores have sufficient orientational mobility and dipole moment so as to be oriented by the space-charge field itself. © 1994 Optical Society of America.