Greek researchers at Athens University create ‘artificial neuron’ with quantum-dot lasers

Greek researchers working at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens (EKPA) optical communication photonic technology laboratory have developed an artificial “neuron” that simulates fundamental functions of the human brain, at speeds that are many orders of magnitude higher.

A paper on the new breakthrough made by the Greek team, led by Prof. Dimitris Syvridis with Dr. Charis Mesaritakis as main researcher and with Alexandros Kapsalis and Adonis Bogris listed as authors, was published in the “Scientific Reports” section of the science journal “Nature” on December 19.

Simulating the action of biological neurons is the “Holy Grail” of computing; the proposal developed by Mesaritakis and his team uses an integrated all-optical neuron based on an InAs/InGaAs semiconductor quantum-dot passively mode-locked laser.

The researchers reproduced the functions of spiking neurons in the brain with arrays on a scale of a few dozen micrometres. In addition to furthering our understanding of how the brain functions, these can also lead to the building of basic structural elements that make up brain structures. This brings science one step closer to creating a comprehensive neuromimetic system, capable of reproducing complex neural functions and acting as an innovative computing paradigm with various uses.