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Proceedings Paper

The photoneuron: a dynamically reconfigurable information processing control element utilizing embedded fiber waveguide interconnects
Author(s): Andrew S. Glista
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Paper Abstract

The term "photoneuron" describes an electro—optic hardware element which permits an optical implementation of the postulated information transfer processes of the neurons in the human brain. The photoneuron provides a dynamic activation and control mechanism for highly parallel computers and permits immediate implementation of reconfigurable high speed optical interconnects. The suggested method for interconnecting processors in a photoneuronic network consists of embedded optical fibers in composite materials to form optical backplanes utilizing "smart skin" technology. This method eliminates the environmental concerns and technological barriers posed by free space optics and integrated optics, while providing a sound engineering approach leading to the all optical computer. This paper briefly reviews the physiological activity of neurons in the human brain. Optical analogies for processor activation in neural networks corresponding to the nerve impulse activation in the brain are then described. The paper then suggests the utilization of optical signal parameters and encoding to emulate the information exchange of neurotransmitters provided by first and second messenger molecular activity across the synaptic "connections" of neurons in the brain. This represents a departure from most neural networks which dwell on threshold processor activation and ignore the exceedingly complex molecular information exchange mechanisms of the brain. Digital, analog, and combinatorial alternatives are described.

Paper Details

Date Published: 1 December 1991
Proc. SPIE 1563, Optical Enhancements to Computing Technology, (1 December 1991); doi: 10.1117/12.2321726
Show Author Affiliations
Andrew S. Glista, Naval Air Systems Command (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 1563:
Optical Enhancements to Computing Technology
John A. Neff, Editor(s)

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