Waveguide properties of thin polymer films
Some basic concepts and principles of optical dielectric slab waveguiding and experimental methodology involving characterisation of waveguide films are introduced, Results from the characterisation of thin polymeric waveguide films and measurements of refractive indices of the films are presented. The birefringence of some polymer films is analysed and discussed. The photostabilities of several dopants (DEMI, Ultra-DEMI, Dicyclohexyl-DEMI, Mor2, Morpip and DCM) are investigated in a polymer matrix (PMMA), and their measured photostabilities are presented. These organic chromophores change their properties in the course of photodegradation. Degradation experiments are carried out by exposing the doped waveguide films to light in air, vacuum and nitrogen environments. The degradation mechanisms of these chromophores are discussed. It is found that the degradation of the DEMI, Ultra-DEMI, Dicyclohexyl-DEMI and DCM are due to photooxidation, their photostabilities are much higher in vacuum than in air. The Mor2 and Morpip degrade by direct photodecomposition, their photostabilities are in the same order when exposed to light in their main absorption bands. The oxygen free environment (e.g. vacuum) is essential to increase their photostabilities. A beam branching effect in DCM doped waveguide film is observed. Stacked multi-layer waveguides are investigated as possible humidity sensors. Symmetric structure (PMMA/P-4VP/PMMA/P-4VP/PMMA) (P4VP-I) and unsymmetric structure (Si02/P-4VP/Zeonex/P-4VP/Air) (P4VP-II) are studied. Special procedures and process have been developed to fabricate multi-layer waveguide structures in experiments. It is found that both structures have good reversibilities and show reasonable stabilities. 30 ppm concentrations of water vapour can be detected by the P4VP-II structure. The experimental results show that the overall response of P4VP-II structure exhibits good linearity with increase of the concentration of water vapour. The structures can not only measure the phase shift of interference, but also can measure the direction of fringe movement. The sensitivity of the structure can be further improved by using different combinations of polymers in the structure.