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Light eddies
Mitchell A. Nahmias (graduate student) and Paul R. Prucnal (faculty)
Department of Electrical Engineering
Fiber optic networks have transformed global communications by moving digital bits of information around the planet at the speed of light. By combining lasers with artificial neural networks, it may one day be possible to create high-speed processors that react to incoming data far faster than current computers could ever handle. Our brains are composed of billions of individual cells called neurons, which communicate along millions of billions of channels with electrochemical signals. This computer model visualizes a laser that behaves like a neuron by plotting a so-called "phase space." Notice that the lines swirl inwards like a whirlpool to converge at stable equilibrium points, indicating that the laser will stabilize over time. Studying these trajectories helps us understand how our devices emit and receive pulses of light that mimic the way in which neurons communicate.