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1.3 PHYSICAL SCIENCES, Condensed matter physics, Optics
Sensing applications of holograms may be based on effects such as change in the spacing of the recorded fringes in a holographic diffraction grating in the presence of an analyte so that the direction of the diffracted laser light changes, or, in the case of a white light reflection grating, the wavelength of the diffracted light changes. An example is a reflection grating which swells in the presence of atmospheric moisture to indicate relative humidity by a change is the colour of the diffracted light. These devices make use of the photopolymer’s ability to absorb moisture. In a more versatile approach one can add inorganic nanoparticles to the photopolymer composition. These nanoparticles have refractive indices that are different from that of the bulk photopolymer. During the holographic recording of diffraction gratings, the polymerisation and accompanying diffusion processes cause redistribution of the nanoparticles enhancing the holographic diffraction efficiency. Zeolite nanoparticles have the form of hollow cages enabling them to trap analyte molecules of appropriate sizes. The refractive index of the nanoparticle-analyte combination is normally different from that of the nanoparticles alone and this alters the refractive index modulation of the recorded grating, leading to a change in diffraction efficiency and hence of the strength of the diffracted light signal. Yet another approach makes use of a principle which we call dye deposition holography. The analyte is labelled using a dye which acts as a photosensitiser for the polymerisation process. When the analyte labeled is deposited on a layer containing the other photopolymer components photopolymerisation can take place. If the illumination is in the form of an interference pattern, a diffraction grating is formed, in the region where dye has been deposited. In this way the formation of a holographic diffraction grating itself becomes a sensing action with the potential for extremely high signal to noise ratio. The method also allows fabrication of photonic devices by direct writing, using photosensitising dye, of structures such as Fresnel zone plate lenses and waveguides onto the photopolymer layer followed by exposure to spatially uniform light. Our work on HDS is concerned with enhancing the diffraction efficiency of user selected very weak diffraction gratings by illumination with a single beam at the Bragg angle. Light in the illuminating beam is coupled into the diffracted beam and the two interfere to enhance the grating strength. In this way grating diffraction efficiency can be raised above a threshold so that a binary zero can be changed to binary one. A large number of identical weak holographic gratings may be multiplexed into the recording medium at the manufacturing stage, for user selection at the data recording stage. In this way consumer HDS systems could be made much more simply and cheaply than at present.
Naydenova, I. et al. (2009) Recent and emerging applications of holographic photopolymers and nanocomposites. AIP Conference proceedings of the International commission for Optics Topical meeting on Emerging trends and novel materials in photonics, v.1288, pp.30-34.