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nanoHUB-U: Nanophotonic Modeling

A five week course beginning September 18, 2014 to explore the next generation of optical and opto-electronic systems.

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About the Instructor

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Peter Bermel

Purdue University

Dr. Bermel is a tenure-track assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at Purdue. He has published a total of 29 peer-reviewed articles on fundamental material science and engineering, including modeling of electromagnetic and quantum mechanical systems, along with corroborating experiments. He now focuses on improving the performance of photovoltaic and thermophotovoltaic systems using photonic crystal metamaterials, which are made from composites of earth-abundant materials.


DR. PETER BERMEL is a tenure-track assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at Purdue University. He has published a total of 26 peer-reviewed original research articles on fundamental material science and engineering, including simulations and experiments on electromagnetic and quantum mechanical systems. Including scientific reviews, conference proceedings, and patents, he has published a total of 40 technical documents. His work has been cited a total of 2073 times, for an h-index value of 16. Peter’s primary research goal is to improve the performance of photovoltaic, thermophotovoltaic, and nonlinear systems using the principles of nanophotonics.

Dr Bermel has developed a five week course to explore the next generation of optical and opto-electronic systems. Course will include advanced methods of simulating nanophotonic and the smaller plasmonic optical systems.

The course material for Nanophotonic Modeling is available as an Instructor Led course for a registration fee of $30.00.


Scientific Overview Video

(non-YouTube version)

Course Objectives

Classical ray optics and the associated components, such as convex lenses and metallic mirrors have played a crucial role in modern technology; however, the limitations of these components in terms of size, flexibility, and cost have become increasingly clear over the last two decades. Fortunately, systems at the wavelength scale (nanophotonics) or smaller (plasmonics, metamaterials) stand ready to provide new capabilities for the next generation of optical and opto-electronic components, including new types of optical waveguides, lasers, detectors, and solar cells. In this class, we will study advanced methods for simulating such nanophotonic and plasmonic optical systems, including photonic bandstructure solvers, transfer matrix analysis, rigorous coupled wave analysis, finite-difference time domain, and finite-element methods.

Who Should Take the Course

Anyone seeking an understanding of optical and opto-electronic systems structured at the wavelength scale. Generally these systems will be characterized as having critical dimensions at the nanometer scale. These can include nanophotonic, plasmonic, and metamaterial components and systems. This course may be useful for advanced undergraduates with the prerequisites listed below; graduate students interested in incorporating these techniques into their thesis research; and practicing scientists and engineers developing new experiments or products based on these ideas.


This course is intended for audiences with background in the physical sciences or engineering. Basic familiarity with the principles of Maxwell’s equations, covered in a first year class on physics is needed. Some working knowledge of integral and vector calculus, as well as basic linear algebra, is assumed. Prior experience with basic programming techniques and algorithms is useful but not strictly required; pointers to web-based resources covering these background topics will be available.

Course Outline

Week 1: Photonic Bandstructures and Bandgaps
Week 2: Solving Multilayered Photonic Systems
Week 3: Direct Simulation of Maxwell’s Equations in Time
Week 4: Advanced Time-Domain Simulations
Week 5: Simulating Multiscale Systems with Finite-Element Methods

Course Resources

Ideally, access to COMSOL would be helpful for Week 5. But we can also use a freely available MATLAB-based tool if the licensing is substantially easier. In the worst case, we can port the latter to Octave to sidestep all licensing issues.

Standard resources include:

  • A free account is required to perform the simulation exercises. An online forum will be provided and hosted by nanoHUB.
  • Prerecorded video lectures distilling the essential concepts of nanophotonic simulations will be made available.
  • Homework exercises will be given with solutions and tutorials.
  • Online quizzes will be given after watching each short video to ensure video comprehension.
  • Practice exams (with solutions) will also be posted for each weekly module., a resource for nanoscience and nanotechnology, is supported by the National Science Foundation and other funding agencies. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.