Nanostructured materials are intensively investigated due to their wide range of physical and chemical properties which result in a large variety of applications. From an industrial point of view, emphasis has not only to be on materials performance and on control of their properties, but also on cost reduction either for the materials, the processes, or for both. Materials are searched for which enable different processing technologies, feature sizes and shapes as well as an integration up to a centimeter scale.
The combination of low-cost materials with tunable material parameters such as low optical absorption, tunable refractive index, good processability as well as high chemical, thermal and mechanical stability, is very attractive for integrated optical applications. A particular class of low-cost nanoscale materials which fulfills these requirements is the class of inorganic-organic hybrid polymers (ORMOCER(R)s1) which are synthesized by catalytically controlled hydrolysis/ polycondensation reactions, resulting in storage-stable, photo-sensitive resins. The material properties, for example refractive index or optical absorption, can be widely varied by choice of alkoxysilane precursors or synthesis conditions such as catalysts or solvents.
In addition, the material properties can also be significantly influenced by the technological processing conditions. For example, the degree of organic cross-linking can be adjusted by variation of UV initiator kind and concentration, or by various exposure doses. This, consequently, is directly correlated to the refractive index. The impact of processing conditions on the refractive index was investigated by FTIR spectroscopy and refractive index measurements. The refractive indices are correlated to the material's degree of organic cross-linking, and application examples will be given.