Third-order nonlinear optical materials are useful for applications in signal processing, optical computing, and eye and sensor protection. Current materials are locked into regions of structure-property space where adequate optical non-linearities cannot be achieved because the molecular structures do not allow for the optimal electronic distribution and delocalization.
COPE is designing extended conjugated materials with optimized dipolar and quadrupolar polarization and delocalization for such applications. In addition, we are investigating the enhancement of third-order nonlinearities of conjugated organic materials through the exploitation of resonance effects, including local-field enhancements associated with metal-nanoparticles and fractal structures, and through the use of resonant multi-level conjugated systems. Relative to current materials, these strategies offer potential for several orders of magnitude enhancement of third-order non-linearity.