The characteristics of Phenanthrenquinone (PQ) doped Polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) for recording edge-illuminated holographic spectral filters for dense wavelength division multiplexing applications are evaluated. Filter design includes the effects of material absorption and apodization of the index profile. Rigorous coupled wave theory and transfer matrix methods are used to simulate the performance of the filters for dense wavelength division multiplexing functions. The experimentally measured spectral FWHM bandwidths were 0.20 nm and the primary limitation of the grating performance was found to be residual material absorption.© (2003) COPYRIGHT SPIE--The International Society for Optical Engineering. Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.