More than 50 years ago, B. Lyot and later on I. Solc introduced new types of optical filters called birefringent filters. Such filters take advantage of the phase shifts between orthogonal polarization to obtain narrow band filters. It requires birefringent wave plates for introducing phase retardation between the two orthogonal components of a linearly polarized light that correspond to the fast and slow axes of the birefringent material. In this paper we present new methods and architectures that generalize the Lyot-Ohman and Solc filters for optimally synthesizing an arbitrary all-optical filter by defining an error metric and minimizing it with simulated annealing. We also suggest the use of the electro-optic effect for controlling the retardation of individual elements that make up the tunable filter. Such a filter could be used for instance for realizing a dynamically tunable optical add/drop multiplexer in a telecommunication system.
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