We define computer-generated volume holograms (CGVHs) as arbitrary 3D refractive index modulations designed to perform optical functions based on diffraction, scattering, and interference phenomena. CGVHs can differ dramatically from classical volume holograms in terms of coding possibilities, and from thin computer-generated holograms in terms of efficiency and selectivity. We propose an encoding technique for designing such holograms and demonstrate the concept by scanning focused femtosecond laser pulses to produce localized refractive index modifications in glass. These CGVHs show a significant increase in efficiency with thickness. Consequently, they are attractive for photonic integration with free-space and guided-wave devices, as well as for encoding spatial and temporal information.
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