OPEN Nature communications | 25 Sep 2017
D Pérez, I Gasulla, L Crudgington, DJ Thomson, AZ Khokhar, K Li, W Cao, GZ Mashanovich and J Capmany
Integrated photonics changes the scaling laws of information and communication systems offering architectural choices that combine photonics with electronics to optimize performance, power, footprint, and cost. Application-specific photonic integrated circuits, where particular circuits/chips are designed to optimally perform particular functionalities, require a considerable number of design and fabrication iterations leading to long development times. A different approach inspired by electronic Field Programmable Gate Arrays is the programmable photonic processor, where a common hardware implemented by a two-dimensional photonic waveguide mesh realizes different functionalities through programming. Here, we report the demonstration of such reconfigurable waveguide mesh in silicon. We demonstrate over 20 different functionalities with a simple seven hexagonal cell structure, which can be applied to different fields including communications, chemical and biomedical sensing, signal processing, multiprocessor networks, and quantum information systems. Our work is an important step toward this paradigm.Integrated optical circuits today are typically designed for a few special functionalities and require complex design and development procedures. Here, the authors demonstrate a reconfigurable but simple silicon waveguide mesh with different functionalities.
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