Several new derivatives of poly(p-phenylenevinylene) (PPV) are investigated regarding their linear and nonlinear optical material and waveguide properties, including their nonlinear photonic bandgap properties that are induced by photoablated periodic Bragg gratings. The new materials were prepared by means of the polycondensation route, which yields polymers with excellent solubilities and film-forming properties. Comparative data suggest that the new polycondensation-type MEH-PPV (completely soluble, strictly linear and fully conjugated), in particular, is the most promising polymer under investigation to fulfill the requirements for all-optical switching in planar waveguide photonic bandgap structures. UV-photobleaching techniques and photoablation in the UV, VIS, and near-infrared ranges at different pulse durations are investigated. Homogeneous submicrometer gratings that serve as Bragg reflectors have been fabricated in MEH-PPV thin films by application of these methods. The great potential of this type of materials for nonlinear all-optical switching applications that arises from their unique optical properties and their patterning behavior is discussed in detail. Numerical simulations of a switching device based on gap-soliton formation in a nonlinear periodic waveguide structure with the newly obtained material data have been carried out. We show that one can expect photonic bandgap all-optical switching in MEH-PPV planar waveguides. Device performance considering different grating parameters is discussed.
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