The influence of natural systems upon the field of optics is, however, much broader than the admittedly extremely rich diversity of natural optical systems such as those listed above. For example, dislocations in condensed-matter systems such as crystals inspired the corresponding study of wavefront dislocations in optical wavefields. Another example of the influence of non-optical natural systems upon the field of optics is given by the field of optical neural networks.
The influence of non-optical natural systems upon optics can also be rather more indirect than the examples given above. A good example is the use of genetic algorithms in optimising an optical system. Here, principles drawn from the theory of evolution as applied to an evolving pool of organisms, forms the core principle that informs an algorithm for optimisation.
One classic example of optimisation, in an optical setting, is in the focusing of optical energy; here, the goal is to focus as much optical energy as possible, into as small an area as possible. This particular optical optimisation problem is made more difficult by the presence of scattering media downstream of the collapsing wave which one is wishing to optimally focus through suitable wavefront shaping.
It is at this point that the present paper comes in. It develops improved genetic algorithms for optimised focusing of optical energy in the presence of opaque scattering media downstream of the wave whose optical energy is being focused. This improved genetic algorithm, known as a micro-genetic algorithm, is considerably more efficient and noise robust than existing alternatives. In addition to being a major step forward in the optics of wavefront shaping in the presence of opaque media, it is a beautiful example of the indirect influence which the natural world continues to harbour over the evolution of optics. I warmly recommend this paper to your attention.
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