Shrinkage of photopolymer materials is an important factor for their use in holographic data storage and for fabrication of holographic optical elements. Dimensional change in the holographic element leads to a requirement for compensation in the reading angle and/or wavelength. Normally, shrinkage is studied at the end of the polymerization process and no information about the dynamics is obtained. The aim of this study was to use holographic interferometry to measure the shrinkage that occurs during holographic recording of transmission diffraction gratings in acrylamide photopolymer layers. Shrinkage in photopolymer layers can be measured over the whole recorded area by real-time capture of holographic interferograms at regular intervals during holographic recording using a complimentary metal-oxide-semiconductor camera. The optical path length change, and hence the shrinkage, are determined from the captured fringe patterns. Through analysis of the real-time shrinkage curves, it is possible to distinguish two processes that determine the value of shrinkage in the photopolymer layer. These processes are ascribed to monomer polymerization and crosslinking of polymer chains. The dependence of shrinkage of the layers on the conditions of recording such as recording intensity, single or double beam exposure, and the physical properties of the layers, such as thickness, were studied. Higher shrinkage was observed with recordings at lower intensities and in thinner layers. Increased shrinkage was also observed in the case of single beam polymerization in comparison to the case of double beam holographic exposure.
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