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Photoquenching of DX‐like defects in heavily doped AlSb:Se is used to write persistent volume absorption holograms. Read‐out diffraction efficiencies of ∼0.5% were observed in samples 280 μm thick. The optical gratings are metastable, and semipermanent at liquid nitrogen temperatures, and are reversibly erased by heating the crystal above 140 K. The activation energy of regeneration of the stable DX state is obtained by measuring the decay times of the diffracted signal for temperatures between 100 and 116 K. We obtain a regeneration energy of 180 meV. Larger regeneration energies are important for eventual application of this material class to holographic optical memories. © 1996 American Institute of Physics.