J. Phys. III France
Volume 4, Numéro 12, December 1994
Page(s) 2391 - 2404
DOI: 10.1051/jp3:1994285
J. Phys. III France 4 (1994) 2391-2404

Properties and applications of optical thyristors

Paul Heremans1, Maarten Kuijk2, Roger Vounckx2 and Gustaaf Borghs1

1  Interuniversity Micro-Electronics Center (IMEC), Kapeldreef 75, 3001 Leuven, Belgium
2  Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Applied Physics Dept. (TONA), Pleinlaan 2, 1050 Brussel, Belgium

(Received 11 January 1994, 11 May 1994)

The optical thyristor is a promising device for optical information processing. It combines a receiving-, transmitting- and memory function in a single device, with at the same time a considerable optical gain. We show in this paper the dynamics of differential switching, i.e., the switching of a single thyristor in an array of thyristors, and compare it to the switching of a single device. We also review the recent developments which have led to a dramatic increase of the speed and optical sensitivity of optical thyristors. Finally, we show some interesting applications which have been realized with differential switching in arrays of sensitive thyristors ( $5 \times 5$, $16 \times 16$ unto $32 \times 64$ devices), such as locating the maximum light intensity or integrated intensity of optical input patterns, and transcription of optical information from one thyristor array to another in free space.

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