An experimental study to ascertain the role of external electron donor in methylene blue sensitized dichromated gelatin (MBDCG) holograms has been carried out. The required volume holographic transmission gratings in MBDCG have been recorded using 633-nm light from a He–Ne laser. Three well-known electron donors, namely, N,N-dimethylformamide (DMF); ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA); triethanolamine (TEA), were used in this study. The variation of diffraction efficiency (η) as a function of light exposure (E) and concentration (C) of the electron donor under consideration was chosen as the figure of merit for judging the role of external electron donor in MBDCG holograms. A self-consistent analysis of the experimental results was carried out by recalling the various known facts about the photochemistry and the hologram formation in DSDCG and also DCG. The important findings and conclusions are as follows: (i) Each η vs E graph is a bell-shaped curve and its peak height is influenced in a characteristic manner by the external electron donor used. (ii) High diffraction efficiency/recording speed can be achieved in pure MBDCG holograms. (iii) The diffraction efficiency/recording speed achieved in electron donor sensitized MBDCG holograms did not show any significant improvement at all over that observed in pure MBDCG holograms. (iv) In electron donor sensitized MBDCG holograms, the electron donor used, depending on its type and concentration, appears to promote the process of cross-linking of gelatin molecules in a manner to either retain or deteriorate the refractive-index modulation achieved using pure MBDCG.
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