Third-order nonlinear optical properties of conjugated polymers and blends
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This thesis is concerned with the material processing, photophysical and third-order nonlinear optical responses, and applications of a set of conjugated polymers in the telecommunication regions. Polyacetylene-based third-order nonlinear optical materials were chosen as candidates for all-optical signal and image processing. Substituted polyacetylenes were obtained using ring-opening metathesis polymerization of mono-substituted cyclooctatetraenes. Polymerization and processing conditions have been developed to generate thick, large-area films possessing large third-order nonlinearities in the telecommunication bands. The good optical quality of a 200 μm thick substituted polyacetylene film allowed for image correlation via off-resonant degenerated four-wave mixing with improved diffraction efficiency. Poly(2-methoxy-5-(2-ethyl-hexyloxy)-(phenylene vinylene)) (MEH-PPV) and (6,6)-phenyl-C61-butyric acid methyl ester (PCBM) composites showed strong nonlinear absorption and potential as optical limiters in the region of 700-900 nm. High optical quality, thick film of MEH-PPV:PCBM with the plasticizer dioctylphthalate (DOP) were made. Optical limiting of femtosecond and nanosecond pulses in the near infrared on these composites showed strong power suppression over a broad temporal regime. Femtosecond and nanosecond transient studies on the same thick MEH-PPV:PCBM:DOP composite films and the experimental results showed evidence for the photogeneration of radical ions as being responsible for the enhanced nonlinear absorption and strong optical suppression in the near infrared. Dithienopyrrole-based donor-acceptor copolymers with narrow bandgap showed strong nonlinear absorption and potential as optical limiters in the telecommunication wavelengths. Molecular engineering was applied to manipulate the spectral overlap of two-photon absorption and subsequent nonlinear absorptions. Femtosecond transient spectroscopy showed near infrared transient absorption and 22 - 61% yields of photogenerated charge-transfer species depending on donor-acceptor coupling strength. Torsional fluctuations of the backbone structure potentially affected the excited state behavior. Evidence suggests that ultrafast relaxation occurs to ground state and to long-lived charge-transfer state from the initially excited state. The dispersion of nonlinear absorption measured using the Z-scan method revealed large two-photon absorption cross sections of these polymers in the telecommunication region. Large suppression of nanosecond pulses at 1064 nm was achieved.