Laser-Based Optical Associative Memories
A new approach to architecture based on the use of a laser as a nonlinear discriminator for all-optical, auto- and hetero-associative memories is presented. The laser operates in a regime of spatial multistability, i.e., of the coexistence of different stable stationary states. Numerical calculations in the simplest situations indicate that the laser is able to decide which of its stationary states is most similar to a field pattern that is injected into the laser itself. The laser is combined with a linear system composed of lenses, holograms, and a pinhole mask. The memory is constituted of a certain number of images that are stored in one of the holograms and which are in one-to-one correspondence with the stationary states of the laser. The task of the linear part is (a) to convert an arbitrary image offered to the system into an appropriate field pattern, which is injected into the laser; and (b) to convert the stationary beam, which emerges from the laser, into the corresponding image in memory.
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