Rsoft Tutorials 5. Pathway Monitoring (BeamPROP)

When stringing multiple parts together, it is important to check a lightwave system for losses. BeamPROP Simulator, part of the Rsoft package will display any losses in a waveguide pathway. Here we have an example of an S-bend simulation. There appears to be losses in a few sections.


Here, the design for the S-bend waveguide has a few locations that are leaking, as indicated by the BeamPROP simulation.


The discontinuities are shown below, which are a possible source of loss:


After fixing these discontinuities, the waveguide can be simulated again using BeamPROP. In fact the losses are not fixed. This loss is called bending loss.



Bending loss is an important topic for wavguides and becomes critical in Photonic Integrated Circuits (PIC).

Rsoft Tutorials 4. Multi-Layer Profiles

Rsoft has the ability to create multilayered devices, as was done previously using ATLAS/TCAD. Rather than defining a structures through scripts as is done with ATLAS, information about the layers can be defined in tables that are accessed in Rsoft CAD.


To begin adding layers to a device, such as a waveguide, first draw the device in Rsoft CAD. To design a structure with a substrate and rib waveguide, select Rib/Ridge 3D Structure Type in the Startup Window.


Next, design the structure in Rsoft CAD.


The Symbol Table Editor is needed now not only to define the size of the waveguide, but also the layer properties. The materials for this waveguide will be defined simply using basic locally defined layers with a user-defined refractive index. Later, we will discuss importing layer libraries to use real materials.To get used to the parameters typically needed for this exercise, layer properties may not need to be defined now before entering the Layer Table Editor.


The Layer Table Editor is found on the Rsoft CAD sidebar. First, assign the substrate layer index and select new later. The layer name, index and height are defined for this exercise.


After layers have been chosen, the mode profile can be simulated.



Rsoft Tutorials 3. Fiber Structures and BeamPROP Simulation Animations

An interesting feature of BeamPROP simulations and other simulators in the Rsoft packages is that the simulation results can be displayed in a running animation. The following simulation is the result of a simulation of an optical fiber. BeamPROP simulates the transverse field in an animation as a function of the z parameter, which is the length of the optical fiber.

fiberBeamPROP sim

To design an optical fiber component with Rsoft CAD, select under 3D structure type, “Fiber” when making a new project.


To build a cylinder that will be the optical fiber, select the cylinder CAD tool (shown below) and use the tool to draw in the axis that the base of the cylinder is found.


Dimensions of the fiber can be specified using the symbol tool discussed previously and by right-clicking the object to assign these values. Note that animations of mode patterns through long waveguides is not only available for cylindrical fibers. Fibers may consist of a variety of shapes. Multiple pathways may be included. Simulations can indicate if a waveguide has potential leaks in it or the interaction of light with a new surface.




Rsoft Tutorials 2. Simulating a Waveguide using BeamPROP and Mode Profile

BeamPROP is a simulator found in the Rsoft package. Here, we will use BeamPROP to calculate the field distributions of our tapered waveguides. Other methods built withing Rsoft CAD are will also be explored.


Tapered Waveguide

The tapered waveguide that we are simulating is found below. We will use the BeamPROP tool to simulate the field distributions in the waveguide. We will also use the mode calculation tool to simulate the mode profile at each end of the waveguide.

BeamPROP Simulation Results


Rsoft CAD


Mode Profile Simulation

The mode simulation tool is found on the sidebar:


Before choosing the parameters of the Mode Simulator, let’s first take a look at the coordinates of the beginning and end of the waveguide. This dialog is found by right-clicking on the component. The window shows that the starting point along the z axis is 1 and the ending point is 43 (the units are actually micrometers, by the way). We will choose locations along the waveguide close to the ends of the waveguide at z equals 1.5 and 42.5.


Parameter selection window:


Results at z = 1.5:


Results at z = 42.5:


Rsoft Tutorials 1. Getting Started with CAD (tapered waveguide)

Rsoft is a powerful tool for optical and photonic simulations and design. Rsoft and Synopsys packages come with a number of different tools and simulators, such as BeamPROP, FullWAVE and more. There are also other programs typically found with Rsoft such a OptoDesigner, LaserMOD and OptSim. Here we focus on the very basics of using the Rsoft CAD environment. I am using a student version, which is free for all students in the United States.

New File & Environment

When starting a new file, the following window is opened. We can select the simulation tools needed, the refractive index of the environment (“background index”) and other parameters. Under dimensions, “3D” is selected.


The 3D environment is displayed:


Symbol Editor


On the side bar, select “Edit Symbols.” Here we can introduce a new symbol and assign it a value using “New Symbol,” filling out the name and expression and selecting “Accept Symbol.”









Building Components

Next we will draw a rectangle, which will be our waveguide.  Select the rectangular segment below:


Now, select the bounds of the rectangle. See example below:


Editing Component Parameters

Right click on the component to edit parameters. Here, we will now change the refractive index and the length of the component. The Index Difference tab is the difference in refractive index compared to the background index, which was defined when we created the file. We’ll set it to 0.1 and since our background index was 1.0, that means the refractive index of the waveguide is 1.1. Alternatively, the value delta that was in the box may be edited from the Symbol menu. We also want to use our symbol “Length” to define the length of our waveguide. We also want this waveguide to be tapered, so the ending vertex will be set to width*4. Note that width may also be edited in the symbol list.


Here, we have a tapered waveguide:


Methods of Calculation for Signal Envelope

The envelope of a signal is an important concept. When a signal is modulated, meaning that information is combined with or embedded in a carrier signal, the envelope follows the shape of the signal on it’s upper and lower most edges.

There are a number of methods for calculating an envelope. When given an in-phase and quadrature signal, the envelope is defined as:

E = sqrt(I^2  + Q^2).

This envelope, if plotted will contain the exact upper or lower edge of the signal. An exact envelope may be sought, depending on the level of detail required for the application.

Here, this data was collected as a return from a fiber laser source. We seek to identify this section of the data to determine if the return signal fits the description out of a number of choices. The exact envelope using the above formula is less useful for the application.

The MATLAB formula is used to calculate the envelope:

[upI, lowI] = envelope(I,x,’peak’);

And this is plotted below with the I and Q signals:


Here are two envelopes depicted without the signal shown. By selecting the range of interpolation, this envelope can be smoother. Typically it is less desirable for an envelope to contain so many carrier signals, as is the following where x=1000, the range of interpolation.


Further methods involving the use of filters may also be of consideration. Below, the I and Q signals are taken through a bandpass filter (to ensure that the data is from the desired frequency range) and finally a lowpass filter is applied to the envelope to remove higher frequency oscillation.


Receiver Dynamic Range

Dynamic range is pretty general term for a ratio (sometimes called DNR ratio) of a highest acceptable value to lowest acceptable value that some quantity can be. It can be applied to a variety of fields, most notably electronics and RF/Microwave applications. It is typically expressed in a logarithmic scale. Dynamic range is an important figure of merit because often weak signals will need to be received as well as stronger ones all while not receiving unwanted signals.

Due to spherical spreading of waves and the two-way nature of RADAR, losses experienced by the transmitted signal are proportional to 1/(R^4). This leads to a great variance over the dynamic range of the system in terms of return. For RADAR receivers, mixers and amplifiers contribute the most to the system’s dynamic range and Noise Figure (also in dB). The lower end of the dynamic range is limited by the noise floor, which accounts for the accumulation of unwanted environmental and internal noise without the presence of a signal. The total noise floor of a receiver can be determined by adding the noise figure dB levels of each component. Applying a signal will increase the level of noise past the noise floor, and this is limited by the saturation of the amplifier or mixer. For a linear amplifier, the upper end is the 1dB compression point. This point describes the range at which the amplifier amplifies linearly with a constant increase in dB for a given dB increase at the input. Past the 1dB compression point, the amplifier deviates from this pattern.


The other points in the figure are the third and second order intercept points. Generally, the third intercept point is the most quoted on data sheets, as third order distortions are most common. Assuming the device is perfectly linear, this is the point where the third order distortion line intersects that line of constant slope. These intermodulation distortion generate the terms 2f_2 – f_1 and 2f_1 – f_2. So in a sense the third order intercept point is a measure of linearity. As shown in the figure, the third order distortion has a linear slope of 3:1. The point that the line intercepts the linear output is (IIP3, OIP3). This intercept point tends to be used as more of a rule of thumb, as the system is assumed to be “weakly linear” which does not necessarily hold up in practice.

Often manual gain control or automatic gain control can be employed to achieve the desired receiver dynamic range. This is necessary because there are such a wide variety of signals being received. Often the dynamic range can be around 120 dB or higher, for instance.

Another term used is spurious free dynamic range. Spurs are unwanted frequency components of the receiver which are generated by the mixer, ADC or any nonlinear component. The quantity represents the distance between the largest spur and fundamental tone.

Semiconductor Growth Technology: Molecular Beam Epitaxy and MOCVD

The development of advanced semiconductor technologies presents one important challenge: fabrication. Two methods of fabrication that are being used to in bandgap engineering are Molecular Beam Epitaxy (MBE) and Metal organic chemical vapour deposition (MOCVD).

Molecular Beam Epitaxy uses high-intensity vacuums to fabricate compound semiconductor materials and compounds. Atoms or molecules containing the desired atoms are directed to a heated substrate. Molecular Beam Epitaxy is highly sensitive. The vacuums used make use of diffusion pumps or cryo-pumps; diffusion pumps for gas source MBE and cryo-pumps for solid source MBE. Effusion cells are found in MBE and allow the flow of molecules through small holes without collusion. The RHEED source in MBE stands for Reflection Hish Energy Electron Diffraction and allows for information regarding the epitaxial growth structure such as surface smoothness and growth rate to be registered by reflecting high energy electrons. The growth chamber, heated to 200 degrees Celsius, while the substrate temperatures are kept in the range of 400-700 degrees Celsius.

MBE is not suitable for large scale production due to the slow growth rate and higher cost of production. However, it is highly accurate, making it highly desired for research and highly complex structures.



MOCVD is a more popular method for growing layers to a semiconductor wafer. MOCVD is primarily chemical, where elements are deposited as complex chemical compounds containing the desired chemical elements and the remains are evaporated. The MOCVD does not use a high-intensity vacuum. This process (MOCVD) can be used for a large number of optoelectronic devices with specific properties, including quantum wells. High quality semiconductor layers in the micrometer level are developed using this process. MOCVD produces a number of toxic elements including AsH3 and PH3.

MOCVD is recommended for simpler devices and for mass production.



Discrete Time Filters: FIR and IIR

There are two basic types of digital filters: FIR and IIR. FIR stands for Finite Impulse Response and IIR stands for infinite impulse response. The outputs of any discrete time filter can be described by a “difference equation”, similar to a differential equation but does not contain derivatives. The FIR is described by a moving average, or weighted sum of past inputs. IIR filter difference equations are recursive in the sense that they include both a sum of weighted values of past inputs as well as a weighted average of past outputs.


As shown, this specific IIR filter difference equation contains an output term (first time on the right hand side).

The FIR has a finite impulse response because it decays to zero in a finite length of time. In the discrete time case, this means the output response of a system to a Kronecker delta input or impulse. In the IIR case, the impulse response decays, but never reaches zero. The FIR filter has zeros with only poles at  z = 0 for H(z) (system function). The IIR filter is more flexible and can contain zeroes at any location on a pole zero plot.

The following is a block diagram of a two stage FIR filter. As shown, there is no recursion but simply a weighted sum. The triangles represent the values of the impulse response at a particular time. These sort of diagrams represent the difference equations and can be expressed as the output as a function of weighted sum of the inputs. These z inverse blocks could be thought of as memory storage blocks in a computer.


In contrast, the IIR filter contains recursion or feedback, as the past inputs are added back to the input. This feedback leads to a nontrivial term in the denominator of the transfer function of the filter. This transfer function can be tested for stability of the filter by observing the pole zero plot in the z-domain.


Overall, IIR filters have several advantages over FIR filters in terms of efficiency in terms of implementation which means that lower order filters can be used to achieve the same result of an FIR filter. A lower order filter is less computationally expensive and hence more preferable. A higher order filter requires more operations. However, FIR filters have a distinct advantage in terms of ease of design. This mainly comes into play when trying to design filters with linear phase (constant group delay with frequency) which is very hard to do with an IIR filter.

Heterostructures & Carrier Recombination

Heterojunction is the term for a region where two different materials interact. A Heterostructure is a combination of two or more materials. Here, we will explore several interesting cases.


The AlGaAs-InGaAs interaction is interesting due to the difference in energy bandgap levels. It was found that AlGaAs has a higher bandgap level, while InGaAs has a lower bandgap. By layering these two materials together with a stark difference in bandgap levels, the two materials make for an interesting demonstration of a heterostructure.

The layering of a smaller bandgap material between a wider bandgap material has an effect of trapping both electrons and holes. As shown on the right side of the below picture, the center region, made of AlGaAs exibits high concentrations of both electrons and holes. This leads to a higher rate of carrier recombination, which can generate photons.


Here, the lasing profile of the material under bias:






A commonly used group of materials is InGaAsP, InGaAs and InP. Unlike the above arrangements, these materials may be lattice-matched. Lattice-matching may be explored in depth later on.Simulations suggest low or non-existent recombination rates. Although this is a heterostructure, one can see that there are no jagged or sudden drastic movements in the conduction and valence band layers with respect to each other to create a discontinuity that may result in a high recombination rate.



The Acoustic Guitar – Intro

We will consider our study of sound by briefly analyzing the acoustic guitar: an instrument that uses certain physical properties to “amplify” (not really true as no energy is technically added) sound acoustically rather than through electromagnetic induction or piezoelectric means (piezoelectric pickups are common on acoustic-electric guitars however). A guitar can be tuned many ways but standard (E standard) tuning is E-A-D-G-B-E across the six strings from top to bottom, or thickest string to thinnest. The tuning is something that can be changed on the fly, which differentiates the guitar from something like a harp which the tension of the string cannot be adjusted.

Just like the tuning pegs on a guitar can be loosened or tighten to change the tension, the fretting hand can also be used to change the length of the string. Both of these affect the frequency or perceived pitch. In fact, two other qualities of the string (density and thickness) also effect the frequency. These can be related through Mersenne’s rule:


As shown, the length and density of the string are inversely proportional to the pitch. The tension is proportional, so tightening the string will tune the string up.  The frequency is inversely proportional to string diameter.

The basic operation of the guitar is that plucking or strumming strings will cause a disturbance in the air, displacing air particles and causing buildups of pressure “nodes” and “antinodes”. This leads to the creation of a longitudinal pressure wave which is perceived by the human ear as sound. However, a string on its own does not displace much air, so the rest of the guitar is needed. The soundboard (top) of the guitar acts as an impedance matching network between the string and air by increasing the surface area of contact with the air. Although this does not amplify the sound since no external energy is applied, it does increase the sound intensity greatly. So in a sense the soundboard (typically made of spruce or a good transmitter of sound) can be thought of as something like an electrical impedance matching transformer. The acoustic guitar also employs acoustic resonance in the soundhole. As with the soundboard, the soundhole also vibrates and tends to resonate at lower frequencies. When the air in the soundhole moves in phase with the strings, sound intensity increases by about 3 dB. So basically, the sound is being coupled from the string to the soundboard, from the soundboard to the soundhole and from both the soundhole and soundboard to the external air. The bridge is the part of the guitar that couples the string vibration to the soundboard. This creates a reasonably loud pressure wave.

In terms of wood, the typical wood used for guitar making has a high stiffness to weight ratio. Spruce has an excellent stiffness to weight ratio, as it has a high modulus of elasticity and moderately low density. Rosewood tends to be used for the back and sides of a guitar. The main thing to note hear is the guitar is made of wood.. because wood does not carry vibrations well. As a result the air echos within the guitar instead, creating a sound that is pleasant to the ear. Another factor, of course is cost.

Strings are comprised of a fundamental frequency as well as harmonics and overtones, which lead to a distinct sound. If you fret a string at the twelfth fret, this is the halfway part of the string. This would be the first overtone with double the frequency. It is important to note that the frets of a guitar taper off as you go towards the bridge. This distance can be calculated since c = fλ is a constant. Each successive note is 1.0595 higher in pitch so the first fret is placed 1.0595 from the bridge. This continues on and on with 1.0595 being raised to a higher and higher power based on what fret is being observed.

Materials & Photogeneration Rate at 1550 nm

We now seek to understand how different materials respond and interact with light. Photogeneration is the rate at which electrons are created through the absorption of light.

A program is built in ATLAS TCAD to simulate a beam incident on a block of material. A PN junction is used, similar to previous iterations. An example of the code for the Photogeration Simulator will be provided at the end of this article.

The subject of photogeneration certainly can see a more thorough examination that is provided here. Consider this as an introduction and initial exploration.

GaAs-InP-GaAs PN Junction


Here we see that a cross section of this unintentionally doped InP region, sandwiched between a GaAs PN junction exhibits a level of photogeneration, while the GaAs regions do not.

Adding more layers of other materials, as well as introducing a bias of the structure, we notice that the InP region still exhibits the highest (only) level of photogeneration of the materials tested in this condition. Interestingly, this structure emits light under the conditions tested.


Also consider that a photogeneration effect may not be sought. If, for instance, a device is supposed to act as a waveguide, there will be no benefit to having a photogeneration effect, let alone losses in the beam that result from it.


InGaAsP-InP-InGaAs Heterostructure

A common set of materials for use in Photodetectors is InGaAsP, InP and InGaAs. This particular structure features a simple, n-doped InGaAsP, unintentionally doped InP and p-doped InGaAs. The absorption rate of InP was already demonstrated above. InGaAs proves also to exhibit absorption at 1500 nm.



go atlas

Title Photogeneration Simulator

#Define the mesh

mesh auto

x.m l = -2 Spac=0.1

x.m l = -1 Spac=0.05

x.m l = 1 Spac=0.05

x.m l = 2 Spac =0.1

#TOP TO BOTTOM – Structure Specification

region num=1 bottom thick = 0.5 material = GaAs NY = 20 acceptor = 1e17

region num=3 bottom thick = 0.5 material = InP NY = 10

region num=2 bottom thick = 0.5 material = GaAs NY = 20 donor = 1e17

#Electrode specification

elec       num=1  name=anode  x.min=-1.0 x.max=1.0 top

elec       num=2  name=cathode   x.min=-1.0 x.max=1.0 bottom

#Gate Metal Work Function

contact num=2 work=4.77

models region=1 print conmob fldmob srh optr fermi

models region=2 srh optr print conmob fldmob srh optr fermi

models material=GaAs fldmob srh optr fermi print \

laser gainmod=1 las_maxch=200. \

las_xmin=-0.5 las_xmax=0.5 las_ymin=0.4 las_ymax=0.6 \

photon_energy=1.43 las_nx=37 las_ny=33 \

lmodes las_einit=1.415 las_efinal=1.47 cavity_length=200

beam     num=1 x.origin=0 y.origin=4 angle=270 wavelength=1550 min.window=-1 max.window=1

output band.param ramptime TRANS.ANALY photogen opt.intens e.mobility h.mobility band.param photogen opt.intens recomb u.srh u.aug u.rad flowlines

method newton autonr trap  maxtrap=6 climit=1e-6



solve    init

SOLVE B1=1.0

output band.param ramptime TRANS.ANALY photogen opt.intens e.mobility h.mobility band.param photogen opt.intens recomb u.srh u.aug u.rad flowlines

outf=diode_mb1.str master

tonyplot diode_mb1.str

method newton autonr trap  maxtrap=6 climit=1e-6

LOG outf=electrooptic1.log

solve vanode = 0.5

solve vanode = 1.0

solve vanode = 1.5

solve vanode = 2.0

solve vanode = 2.5

save outfile=diode_mb2.str

tonyplot diode_mb2.str

tonyplot electrooptic1.log


Microstrip Antenna – Cavity Model

The following is an alternative modelling technique for the microstrip antenna, which is also somewhat similar to the analysis of acoustic cavities. Like all cavities, boundary conditions are important. For the microstrip antenna, this is used to calculated radiated fields of the antenna.

Two boundary conditions will be imposed: PEC and PMC. For the PEC the orthogonal component of the E field is zero and the transverse magnetic component is zero. For the PMC, the opposite is true.


This supports the TM (transverse magnetic) mode of propagation, which means the magnetic field is orthogonal to the propagation direction. In order to use this model, a time independent wave equation (Helmholtz equation) must be solved.


The solution to any wave equation will have wavelike properties, which means it will be sinusoidal. The solution looks like:


Integer multiples of π  solve the boundary conditions because the vector potential must be maximum at the boundaries of x, y and z. These cannot simultaneously be zero. The resonant frequency can be solved as shown:


The units work out, as the square root of the product of the permeability and permittivity in the denominator correspond to the velocity of propagation (m/s), the units of the 2π term are radians and the rest of the expression is the magnitude of the k vector or wave number (rad/m). This corresponds to units of inverse seconds or Hz. Different modes can be solved by plugging in various integers and solving for the frequency in Hz. The lowest resonant mode is found to be f_010 which is intuitively true because the longest dimension is L (which is in the denominator). The f_000 mode cannot exist because that would yield a trivial solution of 0 Hz frequency. The field components for the dominant (lowest frequency) mode are given.




HF Antenna Matched Network for a Radio Broadcasting Station

The goal of this demonstration is to explain the importance of a matched network and the role of transmission lines (coax) for an HF Antenna matched network. This network is designed for the 20-meter band in the HF domain of the radio frequency region of the electromagnetic spectrum.

Consider you have an HF antenna load, which is positioned on a tower. The tower height is a consideration as a feed coax line will be connected to the antenna from the bottom (roughly) of the tower. Secondly, another coax line will be connected from the base of the tower to the radio station.

The reflection coefficient is the measure for an impedance matched network. A matched network will mean that loss will be minimal. SimSmith is a free tool that is useful for smith chart matching. In SimSmith, the load (left), transmission lines (as mentioned in the previous paragraph) and the radio are plotted on the smith chart.


The length chosen for T1 was chosen at 18.23 feet, which gives a clear shot for an impedance match towards the center using a stub transmission line.


We now add a shorted stub between both coax lines and adjust the length of the excess line until the impedance is matched at the radio station.


As shown above, the the excess length on the stub is about 6′. Plotting the SWR shows that the system is matched well for the whole band, meaning that this station is set up well for an HF radio broadcasting station for extra class amateur radio broadcasters.


Microstrip Patch Antennas Introduction – Transmission Line Model

Microstrip antennas (or patch antennas) are extremely important in modern electrical engineering for the simple fact that they can directly be printed to a circuit board. This makes them necessary for things like cellular antennas for GPS, communication with cell towers and bluetooth/WiFi. Patch antennas are notoriously narrowband, especially those with a rectangular shape (patch antennas can have a wide variety of shapes). Patch antennas can be configured as single antennas or in an array. The excitation is usually fed by a microstrip line which usually has a characteristic impedance of 50 ohms.

One of the most common analysis methods for analyzing microstrip antennas is the transmission line model. It is important to note that the microstrip transmission line does not support TEM mode, unlike the coaxial cable which has radial symmetry. For the microstrip line, quasi-TEM is supported. For this mode, there is a field component along the direction of propagation, although it is small. For the purposes of the model, this can be ignored and the TEM mode which has no field component in the direction of propagation can be used. This reduces the model to:


Where the effective dielectric constant can be approximated as:


The width of the strip must be greater than the height of the substrate. It is important to note that the dielectric constant is not constant for frequency. As a consequence, the above approximation is only valid for low frequencies of microwave.

Another note for the transmission line model is that the effective length differs from the physical length of the patch. The effective length is longer by 2ΔL due to fringing effects. ΔL can be expressed as a function of the effective dielectric constant.





Electrical Engineering Students at University of Massachusetts Dartmouth