We investigate the polarization properties of holographic gratings in side-chain azobenzene polyesters in which an anisotropic grating that is due to photoinduced linear and circular birefringence is recorded in the volume of the material and a relief grating appears on the surface. A theoretical model is proposed to explain the experimental results, making it possible to understand the influence of the different photoinduced effects. It is shown that at low intensity the polarization properties of the diffraction at these gratings are determined by the interaction of the linear and circular photobirefringences, and at larger intensity the influence of the surface relief dominates the effect of the circular anisotropy. Owing to the high recording efficiency of the polyesters, the -order diffracted waves change the polarization interference pattern during the holographic recording, resulting in the appearance of a surface relief with doubled frequency.
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