PhotonicsDB: Optical Constants

Experimental data is used to interpolate the dielectric function or the index of refraction of bulk materials used in optics and photonics

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Archive Version 1.1.2
Published on 29 Jan 2009, unpublished on 18 Mar 2009 All versions

doi:10.4231/D3MC8RG0X cite this



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PhotonicsDB: Optical Constants uses the initial experimental data to interpolate the dielectric function or the index of refraction of bulk materials. Interpolations are possible only within a certain range of wavelengths taken from the initial experimental data sets.

The tool also gives the approximate data and the approximation coefficients obtained from best-fit Drude-Lorentz models for gold and silver. Depending on the number of Lorentz kernels (from 1 to 5) the Drude-Lorentz models support different accuracy of the best-fit approximation.

The imaginary part (and sometimes, the real part) of their dielectric functions can be very different depending on the source of published data. Therefore, in addition to the cubic spline interpolation of the raw experimental data, gold and silver can be interpolated using the corresponding Drude-Lorentz best-fit models. The constants of each model and the initial data set are shown in the reference window of the user interface (UI).

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PhotonicsDB: Optical Constants is built on an earlier project (Data Interpolation Tool, DITTO) developed in collaboration by Alex Kildishev & Alex Moskalenko (2004).
An initial prototype version written using the Scientific Python with a limited set of materials can be found at DITTO Home.


PhotonicsDB: Optical Constants is built on the experimental data taken from published databases. Custom approximation tools are used for the Drude-Lorentz models of the noble metals.


  • X. Ni, Z. Liu and A. Kildishev ... Developed the core interpolation engine and UI
  • Z. Liu, X. Ni and A. Kildishev ... Provided the Drude-Lorentz approximation data and the overall testing
  • A. Kildishev ... Led the development effort


  • X. Wang and G. Klimeck ... Provided Rappture and support
  • A. Moskalenko ... Performed the initial prototyping


Handbook of Optical Constants of Solids, Edward D. Palik (Ed.), Academic Press (1997).
Optical Constants of the Noble Metals, P. B. Johnson and R. W. Christy, Physical Review B Vol.6 n.12 (1972).

Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  • Xingjie Ni, Zhengtong Liu, Alexander V. Kildishev (2018), "PhotonicsDB: Optical Constants," (DOI: 10.21981/D3MC8RG0X).

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