Ultrafast neuromorphic photonic image processing with a VCSEL neuron

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The ever-increasing demand for artificial intelligence (AI) systems is underlining a significant requirement for new, AI-optimised hardware. Neuromorphic (brain-like) processors are one highly-promising solution, with photonic-enabled realizations receiving increasing attention. Among these, approaches based upon vertical cavity surface emitting lasers (VCSELs) are attracting interest given their favourable attributes and mature technology. Here, we demonstrate a hardware-friendly neuromorphic photonic spike processor, using a single VCSEL, for all-optical image edge-feature detection. This exploits the ability of a VCSEL-based photonic neuron to integrate temporally-encoded pixel data at high speed; and fire fast (100 ps-long) optical spikes upon detecting desired image features. Furthermore, the photonic system is combined with a software-implemented spiking neural network yielding a full platform for complex image classification tasks. This work therefore highlights the potential of VCSEL-based platforms for novel, ultrafast, all-optical neuromorphic processors interfacing with current computation and communication systems for use in future light-enabled AI and computer vision functionalities.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4874
Number of pages10
JournalScientific Reports
Publication statusPublished - 22 Mar 2022


  • neuromorphic systems
  • neuromorphic processors
  • electronic processing technologies


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