In the marketing blurb about the payload in the SpaceX video HISPASAT 30W-6 Mission beginning at T- 00:05:45, there is mention of a demonstration of photonic components. The "mention" itself starts at about T- 00:04:05:

Hispasat 30W-6 is the fourth satellite of the Hispasat fleet, built by space systems loral on its 1300 platform, and it involves the participation of Spanish companies to manufacture components and to develop the ground segment.

Furthermore, Hispasat 30W-6 incorporates a Ka band receiver demonstrator, based on photonic technology, and its modules have been developed by DAS photonics and TRIO.

With services similar to current receivers available on the market, the application of photonic technology to these types of components will make it possible to significantly reduce its mass and volume in the future.

I'm guessing that the photonic components are processing Ka-band microwave signals, and there are no free-space optical communications involved here.

But what are these photonic components, and what do they do exactly?

These must be fairly substantial if the photonic equivalent will make it possible to "significantly reduce its mass and volume".

Screenshots from the linked video, click for full size

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  • $\begingroup$ From a blog "The satellite is built to replace Hispasat 30W-4 and carry a photonics experiment that will examine the use of photonics for data routing within the vehicle." It seems the photonics are used only within the satellite itself, but not for a link to another satellite or a ground station. Is it only about using optical fibers instead of coaxial cables for data transmission within the satellite? $\endgroup$ – Uwe Mar 6 '18 at 16:52
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    $\begingroup$ For those reading spanish fluently: Satélites con fibra óptica. $\endgroup$ – Uwe Mar 6 '18 at 17:02
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    $\begingroup$ A very nice presentation Photonics in Telecom Satellite Platforms and Launchers about using photonics in satellites not only for data transmission, but also for sensors like Fiber Optic Gyros. Even Optopyrotechnics. $\endgroup$ – Uwe Mar 6 '18 at 17:33
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    $\begingroup$ The company DAS claims to create "optical wiring" which seems to just be fiber optics with built-in converters to replace existing wiring harnesses, and photonic frequency converters. Those two seem like likely candidates for inclusion on 30W-6. There's also "optical conforming antenna" that I do not fully understand. Someone with a better understanding of the technology should probably interpret that info into an answer, though. dasphotonics.com/productos/aeroespacial/segmento-espacial $\endgroup$ – Saiboogu Mar 6 '18 at 19:47
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    $\begingroup$ @Saiboogu thanks! I can see they make a variety of devices and I can understand what they are individually. But I'm really interested in a description of what was actually assembled together as a unit and put on 30W-6 for testing. $\endgroup$ – uhoh Mar 7 '18 at 1:07

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