All-optical ultrafast ReLU function for energy-efficient nanophotonic deep learning

Gordon H. Y. Li, Ryoto Sekine, Rajveer Nehra, Robert M. Gray, Luis Ledezma, Qiushi Guo, Alireza Marandi

In recent years, the computational demands of deep learning applications have necessitated the introduction of energy-efficient hardware accelerators. Optical neural networks are a promising option; however, thus far they have been largely limited by the lack of energy-efficient nonlinear optical functions. Here, we experimentally demonstrate an all-optical Rectified Linear Unit (ReLU), which is the most widely used nonlinear activation function for deep learning, using a periodically-poled thin-film lithium niobate nanophotonic waveguide and achieve ultra-low energies in the regime of femtojoules per activation with near-instantaneous operation. Our results provide a clear and practical path towards truly all-optical, energy-efficient nanophotonic deep learning.

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