A detailed investigation of the recording, as well as the readout of transmission gratings in composites of poly(ethylene glycol) dimethacrylate (PEGDMA) and ionic liquids is presented. Gratings with a period of about 5.8 micrometers were recorded using a two-wave mixing technique with a coherent laser beam of a 355-nm wavelength. A series of samples with grating thicknesses
micrometers, each for two different exposure times, was prepared. The recording kinetics, as well as the post-exposure properties of the gratings were monitored by diffracting a low intensity probe beam at a wavelength of 633 nm for Bragg incidence. To obtain a complete characterization, two-beam coupling experiments were conducted to clarify the type and the strength of the recorded gratings. Finally, the diffraction efficiency was measured as a function of the readout angle at different post-exposure times. We found that, depending on the parameters, different grating types (pure phase and/or mixed) are generated, and at elevated thicknesses, strong light-induced scattering develops. The measured angular dependence of the diffraction efficiency can be fitted using a five-wave coupling theory assuming an attenuation of the gratings along the thickness. For grating thicknesses larger than 85 microns, light-induced scattering becomes increasingly important. The latter is an obstacle for recording thicker holograms, as it destroys the recording interference pattern with increasing sample depth. The obtained results are valuable in particular when considering PEGDMA-ionic liquid composites in the synthesis of advanced polymer composites for applications, such as biomaterials, conductive polymers and holographic storage materials.
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