Abstract

We describe a polarization-controlled free-space optical multistage interconnection network based on polarization-selective computer-generated holograms: optical elements that are capable of imposing arbitrary, independent phase functions on horizontally and vertically polarized monochromatic light. We investigate the design of a novel nonblocking space-division photonic switch architecture. The multistage-switch architecture uses a fan-out stage, a single stage of 2 × 2 switching elements, and a fan-in stage. The architecture is compatible with several control strategies that use 1 × 2 and 2 × 2 polarization-controlled switches to route the input light beams. One application of the switch is in a passive optical network in which data is optically transmitted through the switch with a time-of-flight delay but without optical-to-electrical conversions at each stage. We have built and characterized a proof-of-principle 4 × 4 free-space switching network using three cascaded stages of arrayed birefringent computer-generated holographic elements. Data modulated at 20 MHz/channel were transmitted through the network to demonstrate transparent operation.

© 1997 Optical Society of America

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