'Surface Analysis Division', as it was known during the earlier years of establishment began its journey in the year 1977. Ellipsometry and holography was the major area of focus for the group. Ellipsometry was an effective tool in determining the roughness, thickness and refractive index of the materials particularly metallic thin films in the holographic lab. As a result of broadening of research interest, the group was renamed as 'Applied Optics Division' later in 1994 and group head is Since its inception the division has been dedicated in the area of development of highly efficient polymer based holographic recording media and optical characterization of thin films, especially films meant for photovoltaic applications.
Optical storage of data has been one of the brightest spots in technology for the past few decades and optical memories can store huge amount of digitized information inexpensively and conveniently. Holographic memories could store hundreds of billions of bytes of data and transfer them at a rate of billion or more bits per second, i.e.no other storage technology in development can match holography's capacity & speed. A group of faculties and students from three major departments of the University are working for years for developing very efficient, sensitive and long lasting polymers for holographic applications. In order to respond to the applications like holographic data storage, holographic optical elements, holographic displays, holographic interferometry, optical waveguides etc much emphasis has been put on methods to develop recording materials with high efficiency and high sensitivity. Photopolymer materials with high sensitivity, high diffraction efficiency (DE), good dynamic range, and real-time imaging capabilities and relatively low cost have been intensively studied. Photopolymers facilitates only write once - read many type of holographic data storage, therefore attempts are being carried out in developing photorefractive polymers which are materials with erasable data storage capability.
Optical characterisation of semiconductor thin films, especially films meant for photovoltaic applications are also carried out in the laboratory. An effective non contact method for analyzing defect levels, band gap, mobility, carrier life time etc is an inevitable requirement as far as photovoltaic applications are concerned. Defect analysis and band gap determination is done through Photoluminescence (PL) spectroscopic studies by capturing radiative emissions from the materials at room temperature as well as at low temperatures. There is an indigenously developed Photothermal Beam Deflection (PTD) set up using which properties of the materials like mobility, carrier life time, surface recombination velocity etc could be effectively determined by monitoring the non radiative emissions from the samples. PL and PTD are two excellent non destructive tools which facilitates characterisation of samples at any stage of sample preparation.