Programmable photonic circuits, in contrast to classical photonic integrated circuits (PIC), can be configured at run-time to route light along different paths and perform different optical functions. This is accomplished by a mesh of interconnected waveguides that are coupled using electrically actuated tunable couplers and phase shifters. Such a waveguide mesh can redefine the connectivity between functional building blocks, but can also be configured into interferometric and resonant wavelength filters. The generic nature of such programmable PICs will lower the threshold to develop new applications based on photonic chips, in a similar way as programmable electronics.
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