Ansys Lumerical for Photonic Integrated Circuits (PICs)

May 10, 2023 Yaelle Olivier

Save Time and Money by Accurately Simulating and Analyzing Photonics Devices

As data consumption continues to grow, the demand for faster networks, more sustainable solutions, and reduced energy consumption is growing too. Companies looking to move their product development in this direction are considering evolving from integrated circuits to photonic integrated circuits, which, once out of the R&D stage, should allow for high yield, high volume manufacturing at significantly lower prices through several advantages:

  • Miniaturization – Chip can fit on the tip of a matchstick

  • Higher speed Speed of light vs. the speed of electrons

  • Low thermal effects, power consumption – Light is faster and more efficient than electricity

  • Compatibility with existing integrated circuitry foundries – Smooth transition for foundries

What is a Photonic Integrated Circuit (PIC)?

A PIC is a chip with the same structure of integrated circuits that also contains optical components that work with photons, or particles of light. Where integrated circuits use wire to carry electronic signals, PICS use optics to transfer, sense, process, and transmit data; the vast majority of communications data is channeled through photons while the logic of it is performed by the electrons.

PICs can be made of different material, including indium phosphide and silicon nitride, but we are seeing a trend toward silicon photonics (SiPh), because it is compatible with CMOS and can be manufactured with the same foundry structure as integrated circuitry.

Common Applications

SiPh is increasingly used in a number of applications, including optical datacom, sensing, biomedical, automotive, astronomy, aerospace, AR/VR/ and AI applications. Here are a few examples:

  • Data Communications - PICs can increase the bandwidth and data transfer speeds and reduce energy consumption in data centers 

  • Healthcare - Photonic biosensors can pick up on small changes of refractive index that arise when a target molecule interacts with the coating on the sensor 

  • Transportation – PICs support automobile manufacturers as they work to make electric cars more efficient and lighter

  • Defense and Aerospace - Monitoring systems can be smaller, faster, and more efficient with PICs

The Need for Simulation

It is difficult and expensive to test PICS, because they are so small. With simulation software, manufacturers can simulate circuit activity so they can test, analyze, and optimize the PICs performance before the physical testing, which means lower yield rates, faster time-to-market, and greater cost efficiency. 

The Case for Ansys Lumerical Photonics Simulation and Design Software

Ansys Lumerical is a world leader in photonics simulation software. Referenced in more than 15, 000 scientific papers and patents and run in close to 30 million simulations by roughly 50,000 users, Ansys Lumerical is a complete, cloud-ready simulation solution with tools that enable the design of photonic components, circuits, and systems:

  • Component-Level Design - Multiphysics-style simulation workflows to model optical, electrical, and thermal effects at the physical level

  • System-Level Simulations - Set of capabilities generates model libraries and optimizes the performance of photonic integrated circuits

INTERCONNECT, Lumerical’s photonic integrated circuit simulator, allows users to verify multimode, bidirectional, and multi-channel PICs. 

It is easy to design PICs in Lumerical using an extensive library of all the necessary components as well as well as foundry specific PDK elements and then perform analyses in the time or frequency domain:

  • Time Domain Solver: Uses a dynamic data flow schedule, allowing for more flexibility than traditional discrete time or time driven simulators. It simulates the time domain wave from signals for each element and propagates them bidirectionally. 

  • Frequency Domain Solver: Calculates the response of the circuit represented by the scattering of matrices, each representing a frequency response of an individual element. Users can also look at the analysis of the circuit behavior through amplitude, phase, group delay, and dispersion.

Watch the recording of this webinar for more details. 

Ready to talk about simulating photonics devices? Contact the RandSIM experts today. Not ready to run all the simulations in house? Contact us to talk about a consulting engagement plus knowledge transfer. We will get everything up and running and make sure your team can take the reins by the end of the project.

About the Author

Yaelle Olivier

In Yaelle’s role as Optical Application Engineer in the Optics Business Unit (OBU) of Rand SIM, Yaelle completes analyses of clients’ designs, helps new customers find the right software for their needs, and provides support to existing customers. Yaelle has a background in spectroscopy and lens design, has many years of experience in Ansys Zemax, and is branching into Lumerical and SPEOS. Yaelle can leverage optics and photonics simulations to meet customer needs in an ever-changing landscape.

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