Abstract

Optical packet switching relies on the ability of a system to recognize header information on an optical signal. Unless the headers are very short with large Hamming distances, optical correlation fails and optical logic becomes attractive because it can handle long headers with Hamming distances as low as 1. Unfortunately, the only optical logic gates fast enough to keep up with current communication speeds involve semiconductor optical amplifiers and do not lend themselves to the incorporation of large numbers of elements for header recognition and would consume a lot of power as well. The ideal system would operate at any bandwidth with no power consumption. We describe how to design and build such a system by using passive optical logic. This too leads to practical problems that we discuss. We show theoretically various ways to use optical interferometric logic for reliable recognition of long data streams such as headers in optical communication. In addition, we demonstrate one particularly simple experimental approach using interferometric coinc gates.

© 2006 Optical Society of America

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