The subject of this ph.d. thesis was the development of an electrically switchable Bragg grating made in an optical waveguide using thermal poling to be applied within optical telecommunication systems. The planar waveguides used in this thesis were fabricated at the Micro- and Nanotechnology Research Center (MIC) at the Technical University of Denmark. The Bragg gratings were fabricated at COM using UV irradiation of the planar waveguides using the phase mask method. The induction of a frozen-in DC electric field into the samples was performed by thermal poling of the Bragg gratings. Characterization of the third-order nonlinearities and the frozen-in field were performed using a new measurement method where the Bragg gratings were used as probes. Good coherence was obtained between this new measurement method and the traditional Mach-Zehnder interferometer method. In the project, several important questions regarding the nonlinearities of silica glass were addressed. It was found that the greatest change in the third-order nonlinearity was obtained by doping the waveguides. No UV induced change of the third-order nonlinearity was observed in this project. By increasing the sample buffer layers, it becam possible to investigate the symmetry properties of the third-order nonlinearities. Contrary to the expectations for an amorphous material, the measurements indicated an almost polarization independent third-order nonlinearity - the most probable explanation being electrostriction. This result is very useful in the production of telecommunication devices since polarization independence of the second-order nonlinearity is wanted. In order to increase the second-order nonlinearity, it was found that the introduction of a high refractive index trapping layer was favorable. During the thesis, the thermal poling induced second-order nonlinearity was increased by approximately 64% making a silica based optical switch possible. Finally, a possible explanation to the very high, but short-lived, poling results obtained by some groups was discovered.