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Improving the holographic sensitivity of

dichromated gelatin in the blue–green part of the

spectrum by sensitization with xanthene dyes

Dejan Pantelić and Branka Murić

The holographic properties of dichromated gelatin 共DCG兲 sensitized with various xanthene dyes were
studied, and results are reported. The sensitivity of dyed DCG in the green part of the spectrum
compared with that of pure DCG 共215 mJ兾cm2兲 was significantly improved by addition of Rhodamine 6G
共140 mJ兾cm2兲 or Erythrosin B 共90 mJ兾cm2兲. Diffraction gratings were recorded with a He–Ne laser at
543.5 nm. The maximum diffraction efficiency was found to be 32% at normal incidence of the readout
beam; it was 80% at the Bragg angle. © 2001 Optical Society of America
OCIS codes: 090.2900, 050.1950.

1. Introduction holographic silver halide emulsions.8 Therefore re-

Gelatin sensitized with ammonium dichromate cording a hologram requires a powerful and expen-
关dichromated gelatin 共DCG兲兴 is one of the best holo- sive laser such as Ar-ion or He–Cd and large exposure
graphic recording materials because of its well- times.
known properties: high diffraction efficiency, large It was our intention to improve the sensitivity of
capacity for refractive-index modulation, high reso- DCG in the green part of the spectrum by adding a
lution 共as much as 5000 lines兾mm兲, high signal-to- dye such that a cheaper and simpler green He–Ne
noise ratio, and good environmental stability 共with a laser could be used. In this paper we present results
cover plate or a thin protective coating兲.1,2 A major of using various xanthene dyes 共Rhodamine 6G and
shortcoming of DCG is that its spectral sensitivity is Erythrosin B兲 and describe their influence on the
limited to the UV兾blue– green part of the spectrum.1,3 holographic properties of DCG.
The majority of reported papers concentrate on in-
2. Experiment
creasing the spectral sensitivity of DCG to the red
part of spectrum by addition of appropriate dyes 共for Chemically, gelatin is a polymer, which is composed
example, Methylene Blue4兲 to the DCG solution 共a of a number of ␣-amino acids and has a complex
sensitivity of 150 – 400 mJ兾cm2 at 632.8 nm was re- molecular structure. The molecular weight of gela-
ported兲.5 Only a few papers have been concerned tin ranges from 768 to 96,000, with an average value
with the increase of sensitivity in the green part of of approximately 27,000.9 DCG possesses good holo-
the spectrum.6,7 graphic characteristics. The mechanism of holo-
Although the sensitivity in the blue– green part of gram formation in DCG has been described in the
the spectrum is much higher than that in the red literature.1,10,11
part, it is still low compared with that of materials In our experiments, a 2–20% by weight aqueous
such as silver halogenide. That is, DCG is approxi- gelatin suspension was prepared by the procedure
mately 102–105 times slower photographically than outlined in Table 1. Various concentrations 共from 5
to 50% by weight of dry gelatin兲 of ammonium dichro-
mate were tested. The DCG film was prepared by
the gravity settling method12; nonphotographic qual-
D. Pantelić 共e-mail:兲 and B. Murić 共e-mail:
ity gelatin 共manufacturer trademark Gelatin-ALBA-兲 are with the Institute of Physics, Pregrevica,
118, 11080 Zemun, Belgrade, Yugoslavia. Ph. Jug IV兲 was used. A DCG solution of constant
Received 26 October 2000; revised manuscript received 26 Feb- volume was poured onto a precisely leveled and well-
ruary 2001. cleaned microscope glass substrate. Thus we were
0003-6935兾01兾172871-05$15.00兾0 able to make DCG films with thicknesses that varied
© 2001 Optical Society of America from 15 to 60 ␮m 共thickness of dried films兲.

10 June 2001 兾 Vol. 40, No. 17 兾 APPLIED OPTICS 2871

Table 1. Procedure for Preparing Dyed DCG Film Table 2. Procedure for Developing a Dyed DCG Platea

Step Description Step Description

1. Swell gelatin in deionized water for 60 min. 1. Wash in water for 5 min.
2. Heat the suspension in a thermostated water 2. Dehydrate in a 50:50% isopropyl alcohol and water
bath at 50 °C, stirring for 10 min. solution, stirring for 3 min.
3. Add an adequate amount 共see text兲 of ammonium 3. Dehydrate in a 70:30% isopropyl alcohol and water
dichromate, by weight of dry gelatin, and heat solution, stirring for 3 min.
in a thermostated water bath at 50 °C, stirring 4. Dehydrate in 100% isopropyl alcohol for 1.5 min.
for 10 min. 5. Dry plate with flowing hot air for 5 min and then
4. Add an appropriate amount of xanthene dye 共see in a chamber containing a desiccant.
Fig. 3 below for the optimum value兲 to the a
DCG solution. Deionized water was used. All steps were at a temperature of
25 °C.
5. Pipette out a known volume of dyed DCG solu-
tion onto a leveled glass microscope plate.
6. Dry the plate overnight.
type of hologram, were recorded by interference of
two expanded divergent laser beams that had equal
intensities and optical path lengths. A green He–Ne
The DCG plates were dried in the dark, for 24 h, in laser operating at ␭ ⫽ 543.5 nm 共with an output
relatively stable environmental conditions 共the tem- power of 1 mW兲 was used as a light source. The total
perature fluctuated in the 25–27 °C range, and the energy density of the recording light beams was 0.3
relative humidity was 50 – 60%兲. The best results mJ兾cm2. The angle between beams was approxi-
were obtained with a film made from a 5% aqueous mately 35° and, consequently, the spatial frequency
solution of gelatin, with 10% ammonium dichromate of the transmission gratings was ⬃1000 lines兾mm.
共by weight of dry gelatin兲 and a thickness of 30 ␮m. The hologram area was 0.8 cm2. A readout beam at
One of the dyes used for DCG sensitization was 632.8 nm was used to measure the diffraction effi-
Rhodamine 6G, which belongs to the group of xan- ciency.
thene dyes 共absorption range, 500 –700 nm兲.13,14 During development, an exposed plate was washed
The addition of the dye can be accomplished in any of immediately in deionized water and dehydrated in
a number of ways.15 In our case, various quantities several baths of isopropyl alcohol with increasing
of a 0.1% aqueous solution of Rhodamine 6G were concentrations 共see Table 2兲.
introduced into a DCG solution. We found that the Also, we measured the diffraction efficiency in real
best results were obtained with a dye concentration of time as a function of exposure. A schematic dia-
7.5 mg兾l of DCG solution. gram of the real-time holographic setup is shown in
Using the same experimental conditions 共thickness Fig. 2. As can be seen, the measurements were not
of the DCG film, dichromate and dye concentrations performed at the Bragg angle. Instead, reconstruc-
unchanged兲, we investigated the influence of tion was done at normal incidence of a 632.8-nm
Erythrosin B 共another xanthene dye兲 on the holo- beam. We found that this configuration is easier to
graphic properties of DCG. position accurately and gives better reproducible re-
The absorption spectra of pure DCG and dyed DCG sults 共a slight deviation from the Bragg angle signif-
films 共Fig. 1兲 were measured with a UV–visible spec- icantly influenced our measurements兲.
trophotometer. The three spectra have approxi-
mately the same shape. As expected, at 543.5 nm
the absorption values of dyed DCG films increased
significantly compared with those of pure DCG film.
Transmission diffraction gratings, as the simplest

Fig. 2. Real-time holographic experimental setup: B.S., beam

Fig. 1. Absorption spectra of pure DCG film and dyed DCG films. splitter; MS, mirrors; Ls, lenses.

2872 APPLIED OPTICS 兾 Vol. 40, No. 17 兾 10 June 2001

Fig. 3. Relation of diffraction efficiency to concentration of Rho-
damine 6G for a 30-␮m-thick film with a constant exposure density
of 140 mJ兾cm2. Fig. 4. Relation of diffraction efficiency to exposure for a 30-␮m-
thick film with a constant concentration of Rhodamine 6G of 7.5
3. Results and Discussion
Diffraction efficiency, as one of the most important holo-
The increase in holographic sensitivity depends
graphic parameters for judging the performance of DCG
only on properties of the chemical composition and
holograms, has been measured. Diffraction efficiency is
processing of DCG films. Although previous mea-
defined as the ratio between the intensities of the first-
surements were made at normal incidence, it is im-
order diffracted light and the incident light.16
portant to determine the maximum diffraction
Our measurements were made at normal incidence
efficiency at the Bragg angle. We did that for the
of the laser beam, both in real time and after devel-
most favorable circumstances for chemical process-
opment. Again, we found this configuration favor-
ing, as previously established 共at normal incidence兲.
able with respect to ease of positioning and
We found a maximum of 80% diffraction efficiency.
reproducibility. Besides, the purpose of our mea-
We found it hard to determine exactly whether our
surements was to determine holographic sensitivity gratings are of a thin, a thick, or an intermediate
of DCG 共DCG ⫹ sensitizer兲, which depends on chem- type.17,18 Because such a determination is not
ical composition and processing and not on the angle within the scope of our research, we give here only a
of the readout beam. For the sake of completeness, brief and incomplete analysis.
we include here our measurement of the maximum Strictly speaking, one can determine the type of
diffraction efficiency that can be obtained with our grating by calculating the so-called Q⬘ and ␥ factors
technique at the Bragg angle 共at wavelengths of both defined in Refs. 19 and 20. Along with other param-
543.5 and 632.8 nm兲. eters 共DCG emulsion thickness, wavelength, grating
The dependence of diffraction efficiency on the con- period, angle of incidence of the readout beam兲, Q⬘
centration of Rhodamine 6G is shown in Fig. 3. As depends on the refractive index of gelatin, which we
the concentration of Rhodamine 6G increases, the did not measure. Therefore we were able only to
diffraction efficiency increases; it reaches a maximum estimate that the parameter value is 77 by assuming
when the dye concentration is 7.5 mg兾l. After the that the refractive index of gelatin is 1.55.21 Like-
maximum concentration is attained, the diffraction wise, the ␥ factor depends on film thickness, wave-
efficiency decreases because Rhodamine 6G precipi- length, angle of incidence, and amplitude of the
tates at higher concentrations in the presence of the
dichromate ion.
The dependence of diffraction efficiency on expo-
sure for pure DCG and for DCG with Rhodamine 6G
is shown in Fig. 4. It is obvious that holographic
sensitivity increases in the presence of Rhodamine
6G. The maximum diffraction efficiency was found
to be 32% for both DCG and DCG with Rhodamine
6G, but the energy densities required for maximum
efficiency were 215 and 140 mJ兾cm2, respectively.
An increase in sensitivity was also observed after
we added Erythrosin B to the DCG solution 共Fig. 5兲.
We can see that the maximum value of the diffraction
efficiency for DCG sensitized with Erythrosin B was
32%, too. Moreover, in the presence of Erythrosin B,
maximum efficiency was obtained at an energy den- Fig. 5. Relation of diffraction efficiency to exposure for a 30-␮m-
sity of 90 mJ兾cm2, which is less than for both DCG thick film with a constant concentration of Erythrosin B of 7.5
sensitized with Rhodamine 6G and pure DCG. mg兾l.

10 June 2001 兾 Vol. 40, No. 17 兾 APPLIED OPTICS 2873

Fig. 7. Sensitivity 共filled squares, reported values24 –26; open
square, circle, and triangle, our results兲 of DCG as a function of

100% because of scattering, absorption, and Fresnel

We measured diffraction efficiency at 543.5 nm and
found only slight differences from that at 632.8 nm
共apart from a change of Bragg angle兲.
It is well known that pure DCG is sensitive to
UV兾blue– green light and that this sensitivity is
greater at shorter wavelengths 共the sensitivity ratio
at 488 and 514.5 nm is approximately 5:1兲.16,24 To our
knowledge, sensitivity measurements at 543.5 nm
Fig. 6. Energy distribution among various diffraction orders at were not performed, so we measured this value and
normal incidence and at the Bragg angle. Distribution was mea- found it to be 215 mJ兾cm2.
sured on the same DCG film, optimally exposed and processed. We wanted to correlate our results with the pre-
viously published measurements of DCG sensi-
tivity.24 –26 Therefore in Fig. 7 we illustrate the
refractive-index modulation. The last parameter
sensitivity of DCG 共defined as the energy density
was not measured; instead we took the value ⌬n ⫽
required for the maximum diffraction efficiency兲 as
0.00135 from Ref. 21 and found that ␥ ⫽ 0.2.
a function of wavelength. It is obvious that sensi-
Because of the unpredictable properties of gelatin
tization of DCG results in significant improvement
and of processing peculiarities, ⌬n can have various
of sensitivity at 543.5 nm.
values.22,23 That is, the refractive index of DCG and
We also found that the sensitivity of DCG at 543.5
its variation depend on many parameters, such as
nm 共He–Ne laser兲 in the presence of xanthene dyes—
humidity, temperature, concentration of ammonim
Rhodamine 6G and Erythrosin B—is approximately
dichromate, polarization, birefringence of gelatin,
the same as the sensitivity of pure DCG at 514.5 nm
nonuniformity, and exposure level. Therefore the
共Ar-ion laser兲.
values that we obtained should be taken with a de-
In Fig. 8, we show the real-time diffraction effi-
gree of caution.
At any rate, if the Q⬘ and ␥ values are correct,
according to Ref. 19 our gratings will be on the border
between the Bragg and the Raman–Nath regimes.
To support this conclusion we illustrate the distribu-
tion of energy among various diffraction orders at
normal incidence and at the Bragg angle 共Fig. 6兲. As
can be seen, there is a significant amount of energy
distributed outside 0th and ⫺1st orders at the Bragg
angle. This means that the grating is not purely
Bragg. Also, the grating is not Raman–Nath be-
cause the 0th order should have a higher intensity
than other orders 共for ␥ ⫽ 0.2, as in our case兲. Ad-
ditionally, the diffraction efficiency should not de-
pend significantly on the angle of incidence in an
angular range of ⫾20° 共whereas in our case the dif-
fraction efficiency was 32% at normal incidence,
reaching a maximum of 80% at an angle of ⬃10°兲.
The total diffracted energy 共all orders兲 does not add to Fig. 8. Real-time diffraction efficiency as a function of exposure.

2874 APPLIED OPTICS 兾 Vol. 40, No. 17 兾 10 June 2001

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