[Illinois] ECE 416 Lumerical Optical Simulation

By Brian Cunningham

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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           In this lecture, we looked at lumerical optical simulation. The motivation to pursue this topic is because there is now software available that allows us to conduct simulations to visualize Electromagnetic field locations, to predict sensitivity, and optimize the device design. The software most widely used for modeling low light interactions is Finite Difference Time Domain(FDTD). The pros and options of the software are then shown and discussed. The Finite Difference part breaks up the object we are observing and the space surrounding into thousands of cells. This is then used to put a simulation where if we know the Electromagnetic field entering the cell, the Electromagnetic field leaving the cell can be determined. The Time Domain aspect provides the simulation space with short electromagnetic pulses. These are tracked through cells of the simulation space and the program offers another option for wavelengths and illumination sources. The yee cell is a part of the FDTD software and if the electromagnetic field components for the future need to be determined, the past electromagnetic field components need to be known. The size of choice of these cells is critical and directly affected by the material present, but once the size is selected, the time step is determined. In the time steps, the waves are dictated by the speed of light and the wave shouldn't pass through more than one cell at a time. Methods of outputting the data are then seen.


My research group is focused on the application of sub-wavelength optical phenomena and fabrication methods to the development of novel devices and instrumentation for the life sciences. The group is highly interdisciplinary, with expertise in the areas of microfabrication, nanotechnology, computer simulation, instrumentation, molecular biology, and cell biology. In particular, we are working on biosensors based upon photonic crystal concepts that can either be built from low-cost flexible plastic materials, or integrated with semiconductor-based active devices, such as light sources and photodetectors, for high performance integrated detection systems.

Using a combination of micrometer-scale and nanometer-scale fabrication tools, we are devising novel methods and materials for producing electro-optic devices with nanometer-scale features that can be scaled for low-cost manufacturing. Many of our techniques are geared for compatibility with flexible plastic materials, leading to applications such as low cost disposable sensors, wearable sensors, flexible electronics, and flexible displays. Because our structures manipulate light at a scale that is smaller than an optical wavelength, we rely on computer simulation tools such as Rigorous Coupled Wave Analysis (RCWA) and Finite Difference Time Doman (FDTD) to model, design, and understand optical phenomena within photonic crystals and related devices.

In addition to fabricating devices, our group is also focused on the design, prototyping, and testing of biosensor instrumentation for high sensitivity, portability, and resolution. Advanced instruments enable high resolution imaging of biochemical and cellular interactions with the ability to monitor images of biochemical interactions as a function of time. Using the sensors and instrumentation, we are exploring new applications for optical biosensor technology including protein microarrays, biosensor/mass spectrometry systems, and microfluidics-based assays using nanoliter quantities of reagents. The methods and systems developed in the laboratory are applied in the fields of life science research, drug discovery, diagnostic testing, and environmental monitoring. -From Professor Cunningham's Faculty Profile

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Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  • Brian Cunningham (2013), "[Illinois] ECE 416 Lumerical Optical Simulation," http://nanohub.org/resources/17357.

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