A smart-pixel array is a two-dimensional array of optoelectronic devices that combine optical inputs and outputs with electronic processing circuitry. A field-programmable smart-pixel array (FP-SPA) is a smart-pixel array capable of having its electronic functionality dynamically programmed in the field. Such devices could be used in a diverse range of applications, including optical switching, optical digital signal processing, and optical image processing. We describe the design, VLSI implementation, and applications of a first-generation FP-SPA implemented with the 0.8-µm complementary metal-oxide semiconductor–self-electro-optic effect device technology made available through the Lucent Technologies–Advanced Research Projects Agency Cooperative (Lucent/ARPA/COOP) program. We report spice simulations and experimental results of two sample applications: In the first application, we configure this FP-SPA as an array of free-space optical binary switches that can be used in optical multistage networks. In the second, we configure the device as an optoelectronic transceiver for a dynamically reconfigurable free-space intelligent optical backplane called the hyperplane. We also describe the testing setup and the electrical and the optical tests that demonstrate the correct functionality of the fabricated device. Such devices have the potential to reduce significantly the need for custom design and fabrication of application-specific optoelectronic devices in the same manner that field-programmable gate arrays have largely eliminated the need for custom design and fabrication of application-specific gate arrays, except in the most demanding applications.
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