Imperfections and nonrobust behavior of practical multilevel spatial light modulators (SLMs) degrade the performance of many proposed full-complex amplitude modulation schemes. We consider the use of more robust binary SLMs for this purpose. We propose a generic method, by which, out of K binary (or ) SLMs of size , we effectively create a new -level (or K bit) SLM of size . The method is a generalization of the well-known concepts of bit plane representation and decomposition for ordinary gray scale digital images and relies on forming a properly weighted superposition of binary SLMs. When K is sufficiently large, the effective SLM can be regarded as a full-complex one. Our method is as efficient as possible from an information theoretical perspective. A system is discussed as a possible optical implementation. This system also provides a means for eliminating the undesirable higher diffraction orders. The components of the system can easily be customized for different production technologies.
© 2011 Optical Society of America
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