This paper presents a proposal for a novel integrated tunable coupler device called programmable coupler ladder, based on Titanium diffused lithium niobate waveguide and Y-junction reflector. Unlike the traditional serial to parallel converter, the coupler ladder sorts the output bits in the time axis using a built-in delay waveguide. With a proper control signal it can perform signal processing at the bit level. It also can generate coherent multi-channel outputs with theoretically arbitrary amplitude and phase from continuous input light source. Its application in optical microwave beam forming is briefly described. The key component, built-in delay line based on Y-junction reflector, has been experimentally verified via a loop resonator structure, 1 dB loss is found for each Y-junction reflector, which enables a practical coupler ladder. The loop itself is also an important device for optical signal processing.
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