Controlled propagation of spiking dynamics in vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers: towards neuromorphic photonic networks

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We report experimentally and in theory on the controllable propagation of spiking regimes between two interlinked Vertical-Cavity Surface-Emitting Lasers (VCSELs). We show that spiking patterns generated in a first transmitter VCSEL (T-VCSEL) are communicated to a second receiver VCSEL (R-VCSEL) which responds by firing the same spiking response. Importantly, the spiking regimes from both devices had analogous temporal and amplitude characteristics, including equal number of spikes fired, same spike and inter-spike temporal durations and similar spike intensity properties. These responses are analogous to the spiking communication patterns of biological neurons yet at sub-nanosecond speeds, this is several (up to 8) orders of magnitude faster than the timescales of biological neurons. We have also carried out numerical simulations reproducing with high degree of agreement the experimental findings. These results obtained with inexpensive, commercially available VCSELs operating at important telecom wavelengths (1300nm) offer great prospects for the scaling of emerging VCSEL-based photonic neuronal models into network configurations for use in novel neuromorphic photonic systems. This offers high potentials for non-traditional computing paradigms beyond digital systems and able to operate at ultrafast speeds.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1800408
Number of pages8
JournalIEEE Journal of Selected Topics in Quantum Electronics
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 22 Mar 2017


  • vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers (VCSELs)
  • neuromorphic photonics
  • photonic neurons
  • photonic spiking processing
  • spiking regimes
  • controllable propagation

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