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  1. Abstract The exponential growth of information stored in data centers and computational power required for various data-intensive applications, such as deep learning and AI, call for new strategies to improve or move beyond the traditional von Neumann architecture. Recent achievements in information storage and computation in the optical domain, enabling energy-efficient, fast, and high-bandwidth data processing, show great potential for photonics to overcome the von Neumann bottleneck and reduce the energy wasted to Joule heating. Optically readable memories are fundamental in this process, and while light-based storage has traditionally (and commercially) employed free-space optics, recent developments in photonic integrated circuits (PICs) and optical nano-materials have opened the doors to new opportunities on-chip. Photonic memories have yet to rival their electronic digital counterparts in storage density; however, their inherent analog nature and ultrahigh bandwidth make them ideal for unconventional computing strategies. Here, we review emerging nanophotonic devices that possess memory capabilities by elaborating on their tunable mechanisms and evaluating them in terms of scalability and device performance. Moreover, we discuss the progress on large-scale architectures for photonic memory arrays and optical computing primarily based on memory performance.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 16, 2023
  2. Abstract A fascinating photonic platform with a small device scale, fast operating speed, as well as low energy consumption is two-dimensional (2D) materials, thanks to their in-plane crystalline structures and out-of-plane quantum confinement. The key to further advancement in this research field is the ability to modify the optical properties of the 2D materials. The modifications typically come from the materials themselves, for example, altering their chemical compositions. This article reviews a comparably less explored but promising means, through engineering the photonic surroundings. Rather than modifying materials themselves, this means manipulates the dielectric and metallic environments, both uniform and nanostructured, that directly interact with the materials. For 2D materials that are only one or a few atoms thick, the interaction with the environment can be remarkably efficient. This review summarizes the three degrees of freedom of this interaction: weak coupling, strong coupling, and multifunctionality. In addition, it reviews a relatively timing concept of engineering that directly applied to the 2D materials by patterning. Benefiting from the burgeoning development of nanophotonics, the engineering of photonic environments provides a versatile and creative methodology of reshaping light–matter interaction in 2D materials.
  3. Although Convolutional Neural Networks (CNNs) have demonstrated the state-of-the-art inference accuracy in various intelligent applications, each CNN inference involves millions of expensive floating point multiply-accumulate (MAC) operations. To energy-efficiently process CNN inferences, prior work proposes an electro-optical accelerator to process power-of-2 quantized CNNs by electro-optical ripple-carry adders and optical binary shifters. The electro-optical accelerator also uses SRAM registers to store intermediate data. However, electro-optical ripple-carry adders and SRAMs seriously limit the operating frequency and inference throughput of the electro-optical accelerator, due to the long critical path of the adder and the long access latency of SRAMs. In this paper, we propose a photonic nonvolatile memory (NVM)-based accelerator, Light-Bulb, to process binarized CNNs by high frequency photonic XNOR gates and popcount units. LightBulb also adopts photonic racetrack memory to serve as input/output registers to achieve high operating frequency. Compared to prior electro-optical accelerators, on average, LightBulb improves the CNN inference throughput by 17× ~ 173× and the inference throughput per Watt by 17.5 × ~ 660×.