Microwave Photonics brings unique advantages in terms of low loss, high bandwidth and immunity to electromagnetic interference. The use of Photonic Integrated Circuits in Microwave Photonics allows a reduction in the footprint and power consumption by integrating as many components as possible in a single chip. In addition, Microwave Photonics enables key processing features, such as fast tunability, which are very complex (or even impossible to achieve) using electronic approaches.
Programmable photonics adds a new advantage to Microwave Photonics systems: full reconfigurability and multitasking capabilities. The different functions that can be emulated in the programmable mesh include the possibility of configuring any kind of filter and delay line, along with multiplexing/de-multiplexing signals. All these functions together in the same chip allow different applications such as frequency discrimination, frequency up&down conversion, phase shifting, RF filtering, optical beamforming for phased-array antennas, antenna routing, optoelectronic oscillation, arbitrary waveform generation and instantaneous frequency measurement. Programmable photonic technologies have a big potential to reduce power consumption and scale down infrastructure in base stations.