To replace the film recording aspect of performing optical correlation, conventional real-time joint-transform correlation (JTC) optical systems make use of a spatial light modulator (SLM) located in the Fourier plane to record the joint-transform power spectrum (JPS) to achieve real-time processing. The use of an SLM in the Fourier plane, however, is a major drawback in these systems because SLMs are limited in resolution, phase uniformity, and contrast ratio, which are, therefore, not desirable for robust applications. We propose a hybrid (optical/electronic) processing technique to achieve real-time joint-transform correlation. The technique employs acousto-optic heterodyning scanning. The proposed real-time JTC system does not require an SLM at the Fourier plane as in other real-time JTC systems. This departure from the conventional scheme is extremely important as the proposed approach does not depend on SLM issues. We develop the theory of the technique and substantiate it with experimental results.
© 2003 Optical Society of America
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