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We report the second harmonic generation and electroluminescent (EL) properties of a soluble metal complex polyurethane (PU). The PU was prepared by the reaction of a zinc Schiff base with 4,4′-diphenylmethane-diisocyanate. The polymer film has been effectively poled under a corona field and its linear and nonlinear optical (NLO) properties were characterized. The results indicated that the NLO effects of the polymer are mainly originated in the distorted coordination tetragonals formed by the central zinc atoms and coordination atoms. The polymer shows strong photoluminescence under a ultraviolet-lamp illumination and can be used as a luminescent material for EL devices. © 1997 American Institute of Physics.