We apply quadratic electroabsorption spectroscopy (QES) to thin-film solid solutions of squarylium dye molecules in poly(methyl methacrylate) polymer to study the dye’s electronic excited states and to investigate the importance of these states with regard to their contribution to the third-order nonlinear-optical susceptibility. We first show that the room-temperature tensor ratio
throughout most of the visible region to establish that the electronic mechanism dominates. Because QES is a third-order nonlinear-optical susceptibility measurement, it can be used to identify two photon states. By obtaining good agreement between the quadratic electroabsorption spectrum and a three level model, we conclude that there are two dominant states that contribute to the near-resonant third-order susceptibility: a one-photon state and a two-photon state that are separated by less than 0.2 eV in energy. QES is thus shown to be a versatile tool for measuring the nature of excited states in a molecule. Furthermore, by applying a Kramers–Kronig transformation to determine the real part of the response, we are able to assess the two-photon all-optical device figure of merit of these materials. Such an understanding is important for designing molecules for all-optical device applications.
© 1995 Optical Society of America
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