Diffractive optical neural networks (DONNs) have been emerging as a high-throughput and energy-efficient hardware platform to perform all-optical machine learning (ML) in machine vision systems. However, the current demonstrated applications of DONNs are largely straightforward image classification tasks, which undermines the prospect of developing and utilizing such hardware for other ML applications. Here, we numerically and experimentally demonstrate the deployment of an all-optical reconfigurable DONNs system for scientific computing, including guiding two-dimensional quantum material synthesis, predicting the properties of nanomaterials and small molecular cancer drugs, predicting the device response of nanopatterned integrated photonic power splitters, and the dynamic stabilization of an inverted pendulum with reinforcement learning. Despite a large variety of input data structures, we develop a universal feature engineering approach to convert categorical input features to the images that can be processed in the DONNs system. Our results open up new opportunities of employing DONNs systems for a broad range of ML applications.
Diffractive optical neural networks (DONNs) have attracted lots of attention as they bring significant advantages in terms of power efficiency, parallelism, and computational speed compared with conventional deep neural networks (DNNs), which have intrinsic limitations when implemented on digital platforms. However, inversely mapping algorithm-trained physical model parameters onto real-world optical devices with discrete values is a non-trivial task as existing optical devices have non-unified discrete levels and non-monotonic properties. This work proposes a novel device-to-system hardware-software codesign framework, which enables efficient physics-aware training of DONNs w.r.t arbitrary experimental measured optical devices across layers. Specifically, Gumbel-Softmax is employed to enable differentiable discrete mapping from real-world device parameters into the forward function of DONNs, where the physical parameters in DONNs can be trained by simply minimizing the loss function of the ML task. The results have demonstrated that our proposed framework offers significant advantages over conventional quantization-based methods, especially with low-precision optical devices. Finally, the proposed algorithm is fully verified with physical experimental optical systems in low-precision settings.
Deep neural networks (DNNs) have substantial computational requirements, which greatly limit their performance in resource-constrained environments. Recently, there are increasing efforts on optical neural networks and optical computing based DNNs hardware, which bring significant advantages for deep learning systems in terms of their power efficiency, parallelism and computational speed. Among them, free-space diffractive deep neural networks (D$^2$NNs) based on the light diffraction, feature millions of neurons in each layer interconnected with neurons in neighboring layers. However, due to the challenge of implementing reconfigurability, deploying different DNNs algorithms requires re-building and duplicating the physical diffractive systems, which significantly degrades the hardware efficiency in practical application scenarios. Thus, this work proposes a novel hardware-software co-design method that enables robust and noise-resilient Multi-task Learning in D$^2$2NNs. Our experimental results demonstrate significant improvements in versatility and hardware efficiency, and also demonstrate the robustness of proposed multi-task D$^2$NN architecture under wide noise ranges of all system components. In addition, we propose a domain-specific regularization algorithm for training the proposed multi-task architecture, which can be used to flexibly adjust the desired performance for each task.