Photons for communication, superconductors for efficiency
Jeffrey M. Shainline, Adam N. McCaughan, Jeffrey T. Chiles, Richard P. Mirin, Sae Woo Nam, Sonia M. Buckley
We present designs of superconducting optoelectronic neurons based on superconducting single- photon detectors, Josephson junctions, semiconductor light sources, and multi-planar dielectric waveguides. The neurons send few-photon signals to synaptic connections, and these signals communicate neuronal firing events as well as update synaptic weights. Spike-timing-dependent plasticity is implemented with a single photon triggering each step of the process. Circuits combining single-photon detectors with Josephson junctions achieve complex synaptic and neuronal functions with extreme energy efficiency. Microscale semiconductor light sources and networks of dielectric waveguides enable connectivity to thousands of synaptic connections, and the use of light for communication enables synchronization of neuronal pools of area limited only by the light cone.