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Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence




Continual improvements to holographic recording materials make the development of volume holographic optical elements increasingly more attainable for applications where highly efficient, lightweight diffractive optical elements can replace conventional optics. A fast-curing, water resistant photosensitive sol–gel capable of volume holographic recording has recently drawn attention for its extreme environmental and physical robustness, in particular its water/moisture and scratch resistance. However, to date, the refractive index modulation has been limited. While water-resistant properties are invaluable in the face of the weathering which many practical systems for outdoor applications will endure, high refractive index modulation is also important in order to facilitate high diffraction efficiency holograms recorded in relatively thin layers. Lower grating thickness ensures a large angular and wavelength range of operation-properties that are critical for many applications of holographic optical elements such as solar light harvesting, optical displays and illumination management. For any application where low-cost mass production is envisaged, sensitivity/writing speed is also a crucial factor. In this research, we studied the recording properties of these water resistant photosensitive sol–gel layers at two different recording wavelengths (532 and 476 nm) and investigated methods for improving these properties. We report more than two-fold improvement of the refractive index modulation from 1.4 10 3 to 3.3 10 3 in layers of thickness ranging from 40–100 m and more than an order of magnitude increase in photosensitivity/recording speed through better matching between recording wavelength and layer absorption, chemical alterations and thermal post-processing techniques.

DOI photonics9090636