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Holographic Data Storage

Holographic Data Storage

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Holographic Data Storage Systems
 Invited Paper 
 In this paper, we discuss fundamental issues underlying holo-graphic data storage: grating formation, recording and readout of thick and thin holograms, multiplexing techniques, signal-to-noiseratio considerations, and readout techniques suitable for conven-tional, phase conjugate, and associative search data retrieval. Next,we consider holographic materials characteristics for digital datastorage, followed by a discussion on photorefractive media, fixingtechniques, and noise in photovoltaic and other media with a localresponse. Subsequently, we discuss photopolymer materials, fol-lowed by a discussion on system tradeoffs and a section on signal processing and en/decoding techniques, succeeded by a discussionon electronic implementations for control, signal encoding, and re-covery.We proceed further bypresentingsignificantdemonstrationsof digital holographic systems. We close by discussing the outlook  for future holographic data storage systems and potential applica-tions for which holographic data storage systems would be partic-ularly suited.
 Diffraction gratings, gratings, high density datastorage, holographic data storage, holographic recording mate-rials, holography, optical data storage, optical storage materials, photopolymer media, photorefractive media, volumetric datastorage.
I. I
 A. Motivation
Optical data storage is a commercial success story. Eachyear billions of recordable disks are sold worldwide, and inalmost every household with a computer there is a CD-ROMor CD-recordable drive. The industry published roadmapshows future DVD products to reach capacities of near 100GB on a disk, and data transfer rates exceeding 300 Mb/ssometime in the latter half of the current decade, shown inFig. 1. Such high capacities are obtained by using a veryhigh numerical aperture (NA) optical stylus for reading data
Manuscript received March 7, 2003; revised March 9, 2004. This work was primarily supported by the Defense Advanced Research ProjectsAgency Industry/University PRISM and HDSS Programs and, subsequentto 2000, in part by the Japanese Science and Technology program.L. Hesselink and S. S. Orlov are with the Solid State Photonics Lab,Department of Electrical Engineering, Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA94305-4070 USA (e-mail: orlov@wireless.net).M. C. Bashaw is with Lockheed Martin Corporation, Integrated Systems& Solutions, San Jose, CA 95134 USA.Digital Object Identifier 10.1109/JPROC.2004.831212
Fig. 1.
Optical roadmap. (Courtesy TDK, with permission).
from and writing data onto the optical disk. Blue lasersachieve spot sizes of a few hundred micrometers, providingapproximately 25 GB of storage capacity per layer. Up tofour layers—two on each side—increase capacity to near100 GB per disk. To further improve capacity and transferrates, several options are available, including increasing theNA beyond 0.85, reducing the wavelength below 400 nm,or adding more layers. All these options present significantobstacles. Additional improvements in NA require morecostly and complicated optical systems for an additional40–50% gain in NA, leading to doubling in capacity. Shorterwavelength lasers are not commercially available and re-quire special optical materials that are transparent below 400nm. Increasing the number of layers also proves difficultfor a variety of reasons, the most significant one beingmanufacturability and complexity of implementation for themedia, optical stylus, and the associated optomechanicalsystem for tracking and focusing. The industry, therefore,has been researching new methods for extending the opticaldata storage roadmap well beyond 100 GB per disk.Two promising candidates are near-field recording andholography. In near-field recording approaches, the NA of the optical stylus is made larger than one, resulting in verysmall spot sizes approaching dimensions less than 100 nm.The focusing spot is near to the optical lens, requiring closeproximity between the optical head and disk, making remov-ability of the media more difficult, as small contaminants
0018-9219/04$20.00 © 2004 IEEE
can cause interference between the two. The advantages of near-
eld recording are the extremely high areal densitiesachievable, but at the expense of optomechanical complexityand less robust removability, among others. The secondpromising candidate technology is optical holography. Inoptical holography, data are stored throughout the volumeof the recording medium, as opposed to on the surface. Dataare impressed onto an optical coherent beam using a spatiallightmodulator (SLM)or pagecomposer.Thesignal bearingbeamisinterferedwithareferencebeaminsidetherecordingmedium to produce an interference grating, representing adata page. Multiple gratings are superimposed by varyingthe optical properties of the reference beam, a process re-ferred to as multiplexing. Upon data retrieval or readout, asingle reference beam is incident on the medium under thesame conditions as used for storage, producing a diffractedbeam representing the stored data page. The diffracted beamis detected by a detector array, which allows extraction of the stored data bits from the measured intensity pattern.Data encoding and image processing techniques enhancedata robustness. Data pages contain large numbers of databits or pixels; practically up to 1 million b/page have beendemonstrated. As a whole page is either stored or recalledby the reference beam, data transfer rates can be phenome-nally high, exceeding 10 Gb/s. By superimposing multipledata pages in the same volume, data storage capacity isvery high as well. Although not quite physically correct,we can think of the number of superimposed hologramsas the equivalent number of layers in a multilayer surfacerecording system. Instead of the two or four layers used inconventional optical recording, holographic recording cansupport hundreds of superimposed holograms or
by employing the third dimension of storage media.This leads to powerful features not available from surfacerecording technologies, but also speci
c problems that needto be addressed before holographic data storage can be acommercially viable option for the optical roadmap.Among the unique advantages of holographic storage areextremely short access times, less than 50 s, extremely fastinput and output rates, exceeding 10 Gb/s, as well as enor-mous search capabilities for
nding unindexed informationin databases at rates exceeding 100 Gb/s, far superior to cur-rent magnetic disk based storage systems. These advantagesresult from storing data in a volume in the form of data pagescontaining hundreds of thousands of bits. An all-solid-statememorydevicecouldcontaingigabytesofdata,accessibleinmicroseconds, and allowing searches of image features andrecognition at unmatched rates. The powerful advantages of holographic storage have propelled decades of research anddevelopment of this technology. Ironically, the challengesfacing commercialization of holographic storage technologyalso result from the same desirable holographic features. Asmany holograms are superimposed, media must exhibit ex-cellent volumetric stability, low scatter, and high sensitivityfor recording, and must be easily manufacturable. Key op-tical components such as the page composer and the readoutdetectorarraymustbeofhighperformance,i.e.,containlarge
Fig. 2.
Perpendicular (90 ) angle multiplexing architecture,including the electronic control unit.
numbers of pixels and have fast frame rates, exceeding thou-sands of frames per second for pages containing hundredsof thousands of bits. The sensitivity of the detector must behigh, as superposition of holograms reduces the intensity of the diffracted data pages as more and more pages are storedin the same volume. The larger the capacity, the smaller thereadoutsignal,presentingachallengetosystemperformanceoptimization.At present, it is uncertain which technology, near-
eldrecording or holography, will be selected by the opticalstorage industry,sparkingintense interestinboth. Accordingto IBM [1], holography, with its unique performance, may
nd that applications in all-solid-state devices have ex-tremely short access times, effectively alleviating the largeI/O gap that exists between solid-state memory and harddisk drive access times, which gives rise to latency thatreduces system performance. Memories could compete inboth the optical and magnetic storage markets. Holographicmemories could also be employed in large data warehouseswhere the extreme search and readout rates facilitate moreef 
cient database management of large data repositories andinvolving many users. Holography, it seems, is an attractiveapproach for future storage systems.
 B. Holographic Storage Architectures
The holographic storage system architecture is largelydetermined by the type of recording medium. Broadlyspeaking, holographic data storage materials are dividedinto two classes; systems based on thin (a few hundredmicrometers thick) photosensitive organic media and thick (a few millimeters to centimeters), inorganic photorefractivecrystals [2]. Thick, bulk crystals of photorefractive mediaare ideal for recording geometries in which a reference andobject beam are incident on the medium at right angles, asshown in Fig. 2. A typical photorefractive crystal used toinvestigate this con
guration is iron-doped lithium niobate.A laser beam is split into two beams, a reference beam andan object beam. Data are imprinted on the object beam viaa page composer or SLM. The reference and object beamsare focused and combined on the recording medium. Themedium is photosensitive and a phase hologram is recorded.Byvaryingthereferencebeamangle,hundreds ofhologramsare superimposed in a single location of the medium. Byscanning both beams over the medium, or by translating the
Fig. 3.
Shift multiplexing architecture using rotatingphotopolymer disk medium.
medium relative to the optical beams, the total recordingvolume is utilized. Upon illumination with a single referencebeam, the corresponding data page is retrieved at the de-tector array. Such systems excel in having ultrashort accesstimes
on the order of a few tens of microseconds
andextremely fast data retrieval rates exceeding 10 Gb/s, aswell as all-solid-state operation with no moving parts. Themedia are rewritable and information can be
xed for tensof years, if not centuries. Based on fundamental consider-ations, storage capacity is typically tens of gigabytes, andwrite times are slower than readout times by one to twoorders of magnitude. Complete demonstration systems havebeen built by Stanford University, Stanford, CA, and Siros[3], IBM [4] and Rockwell, Thousand Oaks, CA [5], as part of the photorefractive information storage materials(PRISM) and holographic data storage systems (HDSS)programs; while researchers at the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena (Caltech) [6], and at Lucent [7] and at other organizations around the world have subsequentlymade system demonstrations as well. In particular, muchwork has been carried out at Caltech on optical architecturesbased on LiNbO . Notably, the Psaltis group at Caltech andthe group at Northrop have demonstrated analog recordingsof large numbers of holograms [8].Polymer-based systems resemble conventional DVD sys-tems, having a rotating, removable thick (0.5
1 mm) holo-graphicpolymerdisk,andatwo-sidedopticalhead,asshownin Fig. 3. An image bearing object and reference beam areincident on the recording medium. The medium is a photo-sentive polymer, typically sandwiched between two parallelglass plates with a thickness of a few hundred micrometers.Due to the small thickness of the medium, conventional an-gular and wavelength multiplexing do not allow hundreds of holograms to be superimposed [2], because eventually inter-pagecrosstalkbecomestoolarge.Uponilluminationbylight,ahologramisrecordedthroughachemicalreactionthatpoly-merizesaninitiallygel-likemedium.By rotatingthediskun-derneath both beams, a new hologram can be superimposedataslightlyshiftedlocation,partiallyoverlappingpreviouslyrecorded holograms (shift multiplexing [9], [10]). Data are read out by illuminating the rotating disk with the referencebeam, generating the stored data page and measuring it onthe detector array. Shift multiplexing can be implementedby using a spherical wave [11] or, alternatively, a randomor pseudorandom speckle pattern as a reference beam [12].By modifying the phase front of the reference beam using arandom or pseudorandom phase mask to generate a specklepattern, higher shift selectivities can be achieved than in thecase of a simple spherical wave. Alignment requirements,however, increase as well, as we need to maintain a constantphase relationship between the signal and reference beam.In photopolymer media, shrinkage is a considerable issue,and tradeoffs are made to control shrinkage versus recordingsensitivity and total dynamic range of the medium. Pho-topolymers,onthepositiveside,aremoresensitiverecordingmedia by at least one or two orders of magnitude than pho-torefractive crystals. They derive their advantage from anexothermal chemical chain reaction that
onephoton event into 100 or 1000 chain polymerization events,whereas photorefractive media typically require one photonevent for every photorefractive event that produces a localindex of refraction change in the medium. Consequently,sensitive photopolymer materials are write-once-read-many(WORM) media. Attempts to make reversible polymermedia with high sensitivity have fallen short of the require-ments for HDSSs [13], as they fundamentally require againone photon event for one index changing event. The price topay for higher sensitivity of photopolymers is the change inmedia density, which leads to both an index change as wellas shrinkage caused by the polymerization reaction. Theholy grail for developers of holographic data storage mate-rials developers is to devise a medium with high sensitivitywhile maintaining a low level of shrinkage. Researchers atPolaroid, Boston, MA, and Bell Laboratories, Murray Hill,NJ, have taken different tacks on this problem, and excellentsystem demonstrations based on cationic ring opening ma-terials (CROP) (Polaroid) [14], [15] and free-radial media (Lucent) have been made [16]. Data capacities exceeding250 GB on a DVD-like disk have been measured by Aprilis,and data rates exceeding 10 Gb/s have been demonstrated atStanford University using Polaroid, and later Aprilis, CROPmedia [17], [18], To further increase data storage density or capacity per disk, additional material improvements andsystem optimization are needed.System optimization, as usual, is a complex problem in-volvingalargenumberoftradeoffs.ForHDSSsinparticular,the tradeoff between capacity and transfer rate is differentfrom other storage systems. Fundamentally, holographicdata storage is based on multiplexing many holograms inthe same volume of the recording medium. For media with alinear response, this implies that the dynamic range for eachhologram is roughly equal to the total dynamic range of themedium divided by , the number of holograms. As thediffraction ef 
ciency of each hologram is proportional to thesquared index modulation, readout signal strength drops off as . The larger the capacity of the device is, the smallerthe readout signal strength and the signal-to-noise ratio(SNR) are. In turn, small SNR causes large raw bit-errorrate (BER), which above a threshold of 10 to 10 cannotbe further lowered by error correction schemes. To boost
et al.

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