Optical signal processing has its roots in the experiments of Lord Rayleigh, Abbe, and Porter - the first to examine the spectrum of an image. This historical path led years later to the extraordinary work of A. W. Lohmann in optical data processing. In turn, recent innovations and possibilities that are now open in the new millennium show his dominant signature over the last 40 years. Some recent projects that illuminate the future of the optical signal- processing field are described in this chapter.
The invention of the computer-generated hologram (CGH) was a giant leap for the optical signal-processing field. Filters and holograms that previously were generated by direct holographic recording means were suddenly replaced by synthetic functions designed and realized by digital computers. The CGH was the first interface between digital computers and optical systems. Such an approach led to the design of opto-electronic systems that operate in perfect synergy, where each element is utilized for what it does best. Over the years, the field of computergenerated holography expanded into what is now known as “diffractive optics.” Techniques like kinoforms, binary optics, on-axis CGH, etc., have been developed for addressing the growing application list of diffractive optical elements (DOEs).
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