November & December 2020
January & February 2021

Online event

Webinar 'Photonics & Artificial Intelligence'

Tuesday 9 February
15:00 - 17:00

Wolfram Pernice

Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster

Title: Towards brain-inspired photonic computing


Photonic integrated circuits allow for designing computing architectures which process optical signals in analogy to electronic integrated circuits. Therein electrical connections are replaced with photonic waveguides which guide light to desired locations on chip. Through near-field coupling, such waveguides enable interactions with functional materials placed very close to the waveguide surface. This way, photonic circuits which are normally passive in their response are able to display active functionality and thus provide the means to build reconfigurable systems. By integrating phase-change materials nonvolatile components can be devised which allow for implementing hardware mimics of neural tissue. Here I will present our efforts on using such a platform for developing optical non-von Neumann computing devices. In these reconfigurable photonic circuits in-memory computing allows for overcoming separation between memory and central processing unit as a route towards artificial neural networks which operate entirely in the optical domain.


Personal Data

1 son (born 2007)

Education and Employment History

2015 – present  Professor (W3), Physics Institute, WWU Münster

2013 2018      Helmholtz International Research Group Leader, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)

2011 – 2015      Emmy-Noether Research Group Leader, KIT

2008 – 2011      Feodor-Lynen Fellow of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, Dept. of Electrical Engineering, Yale University (USA), Prof. H. Tang

2004 – 2007      Software Engineer, Photon Design, Oxford (GB)

2007                   DPhil, Electrical Engineering, University of Oxford (GB)

2004                   Diploma in Microsystems Technology, University of Freiburg

2001 2002      Studies of Computer Science, Indiana University, Bloomington (USA)

Scientific Awards, Honors, Appointments and Professional Recognition

2016                   ERC Consolidator Grant

2012                  Alumni Fellowship, Alexander-von-Humboldt Foundation

2011                  Emmy-Noether Fellowship, DFG

2008                  Feodor-Lynen Fellowship, Alexander-von-Humboldt Foundation

2004 – 2007      EPSRC Fellowship

2002 – 2007      eFellows Scholarship

2001 – 2002      Baden-Württemberg Program, Scholarship

2001 – 2001      Indiana University Bloomington, Honors Program, Dean’s list

Memberships and Scientific Advisory Boards

2013  – 2018     Member of the ‘Junge Akademie der Berlin-Brandenburgischen Akademie der Wissenschaften und der Leopoldina‘

                           Member of the board (2016 – 2018)

Research Interests and Scientific Focus


Nanophotonics • integrated optics • single photon detection • nanofabrication

Company description:

The University of Münster (German: Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster, WWU) is a public university located in the city of Münster, North Rhine-Westphalia in Germany. With more than 43,000 students and over 120 fields of study in 15 departments, it is Germany’s fifth largest university and one of the foremost centers of German intellectual life. The university offers a wide range of subjects across the sciences, social sciences and the humanities. Several courses are also taught in English, including PhD programmes as well as postgraduate courses in geoinformatics, geospational technologies or information systems. Professors and former students have won ten Leibniz Prizes, the most prestigious as well as the best-funded prize in Europe, and one Fields Medal. The WWU has also been successful in the German government’s Excellence Initiative.