Optically clear gels doped with organic molecules are prepared in the zirconia-silica system by hydrolysis of metal alkoxides in a wet atmosphere. After drying, dense xerogels are obtained which exhibit a closed porosity. By using the same route, organic-inorganic hybrid xerogels are also produced as films.
The molecule-matrix interactions are evaluated from the absorption recovery times of the S0→S1 transition for triphenylmethane dyes. Concerning doped xerogels with other organic molecules having polar groups, the application of the strong polarized electric field of an ultrashort optical pulse allows to locally create a birefringence with a memory effect. This type of sample could be used for optical storage and treatment of information.