Researchers are at the forefront of a revolution in microwave photonics, developing the first all-purpose programmable optical chips. Optical chips or processors are used in everything from biomedical devices to telecommunications networks. As it stands, each chip has to be custom designed and manufactured for each new task, which keeps productions costs high and the sector fragmented.

Researchers have designed a generic optical chip that can be programmed on demand to carry out any number of functions. Manufactured from indium phosphide, they expect to be designing chips that incorporate between five and six functionalities by the end of the year. The programmable optical chip, once available on the market, will trigger an exponential drop in chip manufacturing costs.

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