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Proceedings Paper

Review of volume holographic data storage
Author(s): W. P. Hinkle
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Paper Abstract

We present a review of volume holographic memory technology highlighting the most important issues for the development of commercially viable mass data storage systems. To record data using volume holographic storage, data is encoded on a laser beam with a spatial light modulator (SLM). The object beam is directed into an optically sensitive material, typically a photoreffactive crystal, and superimposed with a coherent reference beam, forming interference gratings. The material reacts to the interference pattern by spatial modulation of its optical absorption or refractive index. During data retrieval the reference beam alone illuminates the modulated region, causing diffraction of a beam that is modulated as if it were generated by the original object beam incident on the SLM; that is a duplicate of the original object beam. This beam is imaged onto a photodetector array for capture and decoding.

Because the data are stored and retrieved as a two-dimensional matrix, a volume holographic storage system is inherently parallel. Consequently, data is read many bits (conceivably in the range of megabits) at a time, so that this approach offers the potential of high data retrieval rates, on the order of tens of gigabits per second and access times of much less than a millisecond. Data recording speeds are very dependent on the choice of storage material and energy of the laser. System capacity and capability are a consequence of three major interrelated factors: (1) the time-energy requirement of the storage material and the permanence of the stored data; (2) the capacity and efficiency of the spatial light modulator; and (3) the laser’s power, physical size, and coherence properties. When compared with traditional flat surface magnetic or optical storage, volume holographic data storage has the potential of advantageous capacity, speed, weight, power, and physical size. While these are attractive attributes, they are particularly useful for space applications. This paper presents an assessment of the past, present, and future of holographic memories by consideration of the various developments since the initial concept of volume holographic data storage.

Paper Details

Date Published: 29 July 1997
PDF: 24 pages
Proc. SPIE 10288, Advancement of Photonics for Space: A Critical Review, 102880C (29 July 1997); doi: 10.1117/12.278751
Show Author Affiliations
W. P. Hinkle, Pacific-Sierra Research Corp. (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 10288:
Advancement of Photonics for Space: A Critical Review
Edward W. Taylor, Editor(s)

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