We demonstrate an all-optical switch that operates at ultra-low-light levels and exhibits several features necessary for use in optical switching networks. An input switching beam, wavelength λ, with an energy density of 10−2 photons per optical cross section [σ=λ2 / (2π)] changes the orientation of a two-spot pattern generated via parametric instability in warm rubidium vapor. The instability is induced with less than 1 mW of total pump power and generates several μWs of output light. The switch is cascadable: the device output is capable of driving multiple inputs, and exhibits transistor-like signal-level restoration with both saturated and intermediate response regimes. Additionally, the system requires an input power proportional to the inverse of the response time, which suggests thermal dissipation does not necessarily limit the practicality of optical logic devices.
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