We present the design, synthesis, and characterization of a class of heteroaromatic bichromophores in order to investigate intermolecular interactions and their effect on optical and nonlinear optical properties. As a design strategy we have linked two dipolar or quadrupolar units through a non-conjugated alkyl chain. The two units are connected either through their donor or their acceptor end-groups. This study represents a first step towards the design of bi- and multichromophoric systems with optimized NLO responses in order to exploit collective and cooperative effects from interchromophore interactions.
A novel scheme for implementing the joint exploitation of different, somehow complementary mechanisms of nonlinear transmission in an optical limiting device is proposed. As active materials we have chosen the fullerene derivative FULP, as a reverse saturable absorber, and a new heterocyclic quadrupolar dye, PEPEP, with highly efficient multiphoton absorption for nanosecond pulses. The nonlinear absorption properties of PEPEP in solution are extensively investigated for both femtosecond and nanosecond pulses. When Z-scan experiments are performed with nanosecond pulses, much larger effective cross sections are measured than with femtosecond pulses and with remarkably different wavelength dispersion. This is interpreted as due to two-photon absorption followed by one-photon absorption from the excited state. Chemically modified nonlinear molecules are incorporated in a hybrid organic-inorganic sol-gel matrix. Sufficiently high concentrations are achieved to allow the assembling of thin sol-gel disks into a "tandem" limiter with a total thickness smaller than the Rayleigh range of the focused laser beam. Preliminary testing of our limiter is reported and shows encouraging results. The resistance of the FULP-doped sol-gel glass to laser damage is substantially improved and the nonlinear attenuation at high pulse energies is enhanced.