The three-dimensional coupled wave theory is extended to systematically investigate the diffraction properties of finite-sized anisotropic volume holographic gratings (VHGs) under ultrashort pulsed beam (UPB) readout. The effects of the grating geometrical size and the polarizations of the recording and readout beams on the diffraction properties are presented, in particular under the influence of grating material dispersion. The wavelength selectivity of the finite-sized VHG is analyzed. The wavelength selectivity determines the intensity distributions of the transmitted and diffracted pulsed beams along the output face of the VHG. The distortion and widening of the diffracted pulsed beams are different for different points on the output face, as is numerically shown for a VHG recorded in a crystal. The beam quality is analyzed, and the variations of the total diffraction efficiency are shown in relation to the geometrical size of the grating and the temporal width of the readout UPB. In addition, the diffraction properties of the finite-sized and one-dimensional VHG for pulsed and continuous-wave readout are compared. The study shows the potential application of VHGs in controlling spatial and temporal features of UPBs simultaneously.
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