A novel technique for continuously programming an optical coherent transient spatial–spectral signal processor is proposed. The repeated application of two spatially distinct optical programming pulses to a nonpersistent hole-burning material writes an accumulated spatial–spectral population grating. An optical data stream is introduced on a third beam, resulting in a processor output signal that is spatially distinct from all the input pulses. Programming and processing take place simultaneously, asynchronously, and continuously. In the case of true-time delays, the efficiency that is achievable with currently available materials is of the order of that predicted for a perfect photon-gated device.
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