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Ulf Andersson(I), Min Qiu(II), Tommy Sundstr om(III)


Email: PDC, KTH S-100 44 Stockholm Sweden


Email: IMIT, KTH, Electrum 229 S-164 40 Kista Sweden Email: PDC, KTH S-100 44 Stockholm Sweden


We will report on our computations on photonic crystal waveguides with the FDTD part of the GEMS time-domain code. We will concentrate on the W3PC waveguide. We will explain a procedure called regularization and show that it can be used to improve the accuracy of a pure FDTD computation when the transmission diagram for the W3PC is computed.


Human beings live in the information age. Increasing amounts of information ow from our computers out through the optical bers of the Internet and through our mobile telephones to satellite radio links all over the world. Two simple but fundamental requirements are put on a modern information system for it to be practically useful. It must be fast, so that large volumes of information can be transferred in a short time. The users apparatus must be small so that there is room for it in oces, homes, briefcases or pockets. The invention of the integrated electronic circuit brought an industrial revolution of all modern technology. The microchip has also led to our environment being ooded with small electronic apparatuses. In contrast, the integration level of the devices for optical communications is still orders of magnitudes lower than that of electronic devices. In order to manage this vast amount of data trac, we need complex and highly integrated optical circuits, i.e., transmitters, routers and multiplexers that are able to control many channels simultaneously. Using current technology, such circuits quickly become cumbersome and are dicult to mass-manufacture. New generation of photonic devices are demanded to meet he needs of the ultra-compact integrated optical circuits.

The discovery of photonic crystals (PCs) and their use in controlling light propagation is a new and exciting development [1, 2, 3]. It has vast implications for material science, electrical engineering, optics, and physics. Photonic crystals may exhibit an extraordinary high, nonlinear dispersion, which gives rise to super prism eects [4, 5]. It may enable the integration of new functions such as wavelength-division multiplexed (WDM) lters, WDM add/drop multiplexer, and dispersion compensators. Moreover, photonic crystals may posses a forbidden band of frequencies, i.e., a photonic band gap (in analogy with bandgaps in electronic crystals), where light cannot propagate but is reected or diracted. It gives rise to many potential applications, e.g. lasers, ultra-short bends without losses, ultra-compact add/drop lters, and photonic crystal bers. In a word, photonic crystals may recast integrated optics and take photonics from the single component level to the realm of large scale integrated circuits. Ecient theoretical tools are needed to analyze and, more importantly, design the new photonic devices, as numerical methods and scientic computing are becoming increasingly important for modern industrial product development. Most of the studies need three-dimensional full vectorial solutions of the Maxwell equations in time domain, which require huge amount of computational resources. The goal of our project is to expand the GEMS time-domain code to a tool for analysis and design of photonic integrated circuits. We will here report on our initial steps and future plans in this project. We will give results for the W3PC waveguide using FDTD with regularization.

Photonic Crystal Waveguides

A photonic crystal is an articial structure with the electromagnetic properties periodically modulated on a length scale comparable the wavelengths of light. A photonic crystal might posses a photonic band gap (PBG), in which the light, with its frequency in the band gap, cannot propagate in the photonic crystal. Waves with other wavelengths may propagate through the structure with low losses [6]. The frequency of the band gap is here referred to as 0 . The PBG eect was proposed in 1987 by Yablonovitch[1] and John[2], and the subject has received an increasing interest since then. One of the most interesting application of photonic band gap materials is the construction of photonic band gap waveguides, with properties dierent from conventional waveguides. The most usual way to construct this is to etch holes with a two-dimensional periodicity in a plane of dielectric or metallic material (see Figure 1). This structure may possess a photonic band gap and the frequency of the photonic band gap depends on the distance between the holes. In this paper we will concentrate on the W3PC waveguide shown in Figure 1. It is constructed by omitting three rows of air holes in the center. The holes are placed such that the center of three adjacent holes form an equilateral triangle. The distance between the centers of two adjacent holes is a = 450 nm and radius of the air holes are r = 0.36a = 162 nm. For our computations we will use 30 holes per row. (Every second row has 29 holes.) The depth of the holes is a design factor. In our computations we will use a depth of 5a. The r -values of the three dielectric layers are: 10.0, 11.2 and 10.0.

air hole
200nm 450nm n = 3.16 n = 3.35


detector point


n = 3.16 z x y

x y

Transmission Plane

Figure 1: The W3PC waveguide. Note that the gures are not drawn to scale.

The Gems Time-Domain Code

For our computations we use the hybrid time-domain code from the GEMS1 project, GemsTD, aka frida. It combines the nite-dierence time-domain (FDTD) method on a Cartesian grid with the nite-element time-domain (FETD) method for tetrahedral grids. Pyramidal cells are used to join the Cartesian grid with the tetrahedral grid [7]. The use of a tetrahedral grid makes it possible resolve small details and to conform better to curved boundaries. The implementation of the hybrid grid time-domain code uses one FDTD grid that spans the entire computational domain. An arbitrary number of tetrahedral grids can then be added on top of the FDTD grid. A time step consist of four major steps: 1. Update rst the magnetic eld components and then the electric eld components with the leap-frog scheme used in the FDTD method. 2. Send data from the FDTD grid to all the tetrahedral grids. 3. Take a time step on all the tetrahedral grids. 4. Send data from all the tetrahedral grids to the FDTD grid. Added to this are all the routines handling absorbing boundary conditions, source generation, near-to-far-eld transforms, etc. We will use cubical, equal sized, FDTD cells in all our computations. The length of an edge of this cell is referred to as .


Hybrid Grid Discussion

However, it is not feasible to use tetrahedral grids for the W3PC waveguide in Figure 1. Let us consider two dierent ways to use tetrahedral grids, namely: 1. One tetrahedral grid per air hole. 2. Two large tetrahedral grids, one per each half of the waveguide.

For case 1, we need to squeeze two hybrid grid transition regions in between each hole. The distance between the edges of two holes are (1 2 0.36)a = 0.28a = 126 nm. We estimate that we need a minimum of nine FDTD cells in the region. This gives us = 0.28a/9 = 14 nm. The total size of the structure is 6 000 23 500 6 000 nm. This gives us a computational domain of 429 1 679 429 cubic Cartesian cells, i.e., 309 million cells. With 64-bit precision we need 13.8 Gbytes memory which is more than we have available at the moment. However, a much bigger problem is the humongous number of tetrahedrons needed. We have a total of 296 holes. For each of these holes we need 0.63 million tetrahedrons if = 14 nm is used to cover a volume of 0.8a 0.8a 5a. (Six tetrahedrons per 3 assumed.) If we only use tetrahedrons along the interface and not in the center of the holes we can get this down to 0.42 million tetrahedrons for each hole. This gives us 124 million tetrahedrons in total, which is beyond what we can do. Obviously 124 million tetrahedrons in 296 equal sized grids are far easier to handle that 124 million tetrahedrons in one grid. For case 2, each tetrahedral grid need to cover a volume of 30a 5a 5 (3)/2a 650a3 . For = 50 nm we need 6(a/)3 = 6 93 = 4 374 tetrahedrons per a3 , and thus a total of 2.8 million tetrahedrons per tetrahedral grid. The largest case so far computed involves approximately 2 million tetrahedrons [8]. Hence, even with the rather coarse resolution of = 50 nm we get to many tetrahedrons.


Computer Resource

The limiting factor for an FDTD computation is usually not the processor speed. It is the memory bandwidth or the size of the memory. Hence we need a computer with high main memory bandwidth and a large memory. The best available choice at Swedish HPC centers is the Itanium 2 cluster at PDC2 . Each node has a theoretical memory bandwidth of 6.4 Gbyte/s per node and a memory size of six Gbyte. The performance of the FDTD core of GemsTD is approximately 1.0 Gop/s on a Lucidor node [9]. All functionality needed for computing the transmission properties of photonic crystal waveguides is not yet available in the parallel version of GemsTD, see the Conclusion section for a further discussion on this topic. Hence, we are for now limited to using one node of the Itanium 2 cluster. It is well known that the major drawback of the FDTD method is the fact that the Cartesian grid forces us to model internal boundaries in a lego-like fashion. This destroys the second-order accuracy of the FD-TD method. In Section 4 we will describe the procedure used to circumvent this problem.


The Source

The source used is a 2D single mode (Ex ) plane source. The mode function, k(x, z ), was computed using the software FIMMWAVE - a vectorial 2D waveguide solver3 . To get the response over a range of frequencies we multiply the mode solution with a modulated
2 3

1 0.8 0.6 0.4


0.2 0 0.2

15 10 5


0.4 0.6 0.8


6000 4000 6000 2000

0 1 2 3 4 Frequency (Hz) 5 6 x 10 7

4000 2000 0 0

1 2 3 4 5 time (s) 6 7 8 9 x 10

z (nm)

x (nm)

Figure 2: Left: The source pulse in the time domain. Middle: The source pulse in the frequency domain. Right: The mode function k(x, z ). Gaussian pulse, Esource (x, z ) = k(x, z ) cos(0 t)e
0 (tt )2 16 0 2

, 0 =

2c0 . 0


This function is displayed in Figure 2. The peak is located at 0 = 1550 nm, approximately 200 THz. In our transmission diagrams the frequency will be normalized by a = 450 nm, then 200 THz corresponds to 0.29.



The transmission is computed be measuring the power ow (Poyntings vector) in the frequency domain at both sides of the waveguide and the compute the quotient, T ( ) = P (ytrans , ) . P (yinc , ) (2)

P (ytrans , ) is computed in the plane marked Transmission Plane in the right part of Figure 1, while P (yinc , ) is computed on the source plane side, between the source plane and the waveguide. For a more detailed description see Section 5 in [10].


We will now describe the regularization procedure used to circumvent the errors introduced by the use of a Cartesian grid. The standard FDTD method forces us to model the circular air-holes in a Lego-like way, which destroys the second-order accuracy of the FDTD method. Regularization means that we replace the discontinuous permittivity function (x) with a smooth function (x) prior to the FDTD discretization of the Maxwell equations. Hereby we introduce a so-called model error, but greatly reduce the discretization error, and thus the total error is reduced [9, 11]. This is illustrated in the left part of Figure 3, which is a 1D computation taken from [11]. The region in which (x) and (x) dier is referred to as the regularization transition region. The width of this region is . Note that for the W3PC we must have 2 min(r, a/2 r) = 2 min(0.36a, 0.14a) = 0.28a = 126 nm.

x 10

Model error Total error Discr. error


0 0






Figure 3: Left: The regularization concept (Total error = Model error + Discr. error). Figure taken from [12]. Right: Five dierent transition functions. The right part of Figure 3 displays ve dierent transitions functions. The choice of these functions are motivated in [11]. They are (| | /2): ( + 1) + 5M M ( )= 1 2 r
1 ( r + 1) + 5CM ( )= 2 225 ( 128 r 45 ( 16 r 1) 175 3 ( )(r 64

1) +

189 5 ( )(r 128

1) .


25 3 ( )(r 2

5 1) + 21( ) ( r 1) .

3 1 3C ( )= 2 ( r + 1) + 3 ( 1) 2( ) ( r 1) . 2 r 3 1 3M ( )= 2 ( r + 1) + 9 ( 1) 5( ) ( r 1) . 4 r 1 1 ( )= 2 ( r + 1) + ( r 1) .

The great advantage of this method is that the improved accuracy comes for free, i.e., the number of oating-point operations are the same as for the pure FDTD computation. It is only the value of the coecients that dier.


Results for the W3PC are displayed in Figure 4. We can safely assume that a pure FDTD computation with = 25 nm gives better results than one with = 50 nm. It can clearly be seen in the left part of Figure 4 that the use of regularization gives us a result that are closer to the rened pure FDTD results. Similar results are achieved with the other regularization functions. The ndings of [10] is that it is best to use = 126 nm, i.e., have as large as possible. However, it is hard to tell which regularization function that gives the best result. Examining the right part of Figure 4, we see that we are far from having perfect agreement between experimental and computational results. The oscillatory behavior of the experimental results are not physical, but most likely due to errors in the measurement procedure. It should also be noted that we are not computing and measuring on exactly the same thing, since it is impossible to construct W3PC perfectly. See the following section for a further discussion on this topic.

Comparation, transmission diagrams for with dx=dy=dz=50 nm, and transmission 3C diagrams without ransmission with dx=dy=dz=50 resp. 25 nm. 08Mar2004





=35 nm, tr.f. reg 3C ~ =80 nm, tr.f.



Reference, dx=dy=dz=25 nm Reference, dx=dy=dz=50 nm


0 0.24




Normalized frequency (a/)








Figure 4: Left: Transmission diagram for W3 PC using 3C as transition region function, = 50 nm. The reference results for = 25 nm and = 50 nm are computed without regularization. Right: Experimental results compared with numerical results using the linear transition function. More results for the W3PC are given in [10]. Results for other waveguides are given in [10, 13].

Conclusions and Future Work

We have shown that the GemsTD code can be used to compute accurate transmission diagrams for photonic waveguides. We have also shown that use of the regularization procedure introduced in [9] increases the accuracy of the transmission diagrams. This is the rst time this procedure has been applied to a 3D computation. The next step is to ensure that the parallel multiblock version of the GemsTD code, aka MBfrida, can be used to compute transmission properties for the photonic waveguides. On a six Gbyte nod of Lucidor, we are with 64-bit precision limited to 134 million FDTD cells, e.g. a cubic domain of 512 512 512. With MBfrida we would have access to 540 Gbytes of memory on Lucidor, enabling us to do computations with 12 billion FDTD cells (2294 2294 2294). These large computations cannot be performed on a regular basis. The majority of our computations will be performed using 530 Gbytes of memory. The computations using hundreds of Gbytes of memory will be used for verication. We could for instance compute on the W3PC with = 5 nm. The objective of our three-year VR nanced project is expand the GemsTD code to a design tool for photonic integrated circuits, and use this tool to design new and better photonic integrated circuits. We will also use the tool to study key building blocks for photonic integrated circuits. An example of an interesting key building block issue is how much aws in the construction aect the transmission properties. It is impossible to build the W3PC perfect so that all holes are identical circular cylinders. In reality, the may be slightly conical, be slightly misplaced, or slightly slanted.


This work was supported by the VR project 621-2003-5501, the SSF project on photonics, and the computational resources of PDC. The module used for computing power ow (Poyntings vector) is not a part of the GemsTD code. It was supplied by Jonas Hamberg at Saab Avionics AB.

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