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An analytic solver for the 1-D eigenmodes of optical multilayer step-index slab waveguides made from media with in general complex refractive index and complex permittivity. Following the structure definition in terms of refractive index and/or permittivity, layer thicknesses, if applicable, and the vacuum wavelength, the script calculates the complex effective indices of the modes supported by the structure, or their phase propagation and attenuation constants, respectively, and allows to inspect the corresponding optical field patterns. Bound and leaky modes of structures with loss or gain can be identified, as well as the bound solutions related to the propagation of surface-plasmon-polaritons (SPPs) along metal-dielectric interfaces. The solver is intended as a basic tool for integrated optics design, in particular for purposes of demonstration.

Input

For a slab structure with N intermediate layers, the input mask receives the
vacuum wavelength λ, a specification of the polarization, and
complex refractive index values
n_{s} (half-infinite substrate region),
n_{1}, ... ,
n_{N} (inner layers 1 to N),
n_{c} (half-infinite cover region),
and thicknesses
t_{1}, ... ,
t_{N} of the intermediate layers.
Alternatively, values
ε_{s},
ε_{1}, ... ,
ε_{N}, and
ε_{c} for the complex permittivity can be provided.
Select N = 0 to specify a single interface only.
All dimensions are meant in micrometers.
The figure illustrates the relevant geometry:

Cartesian coordinates x, y, z are oriented such that the x-axis is perpendicular to the layer interfaces, while the structure is constant along y and z.
Light propagates in direction z; all electromagnetic fields are constant along y.
The structures are supposed to be nonmagnetic with relative permeability μ = 1 at the considered frequency; permittivity ε and refractive index n are related as ε = n^{2}.
For the frequency-domain model we assume a time dependence ∼exp(i ω t) for all fields, with positive frequency ω = kc = 2πc/λ, for vacuum speed of light c, vacuum wavenumber k, and vacuum wavelength λ. This implies that an *attenuating medium* is characterized by a refractive index with positive real part and *negative imaginary part*.
Likewise, the properties of an active *medium with gain* are given by a refractive index with positive real part and *positive imaginary part*.

Solver procedures

The solver relies on a heuristic procedure for generating initial guesses for the roots of the transverse resonance condition in the complex plane. A complex secant method then converges the initial guesses numerically to actual roots. Further heuristics are applied for the removal of doublets, and for the classification and ordering of these roots.

Initial guesses are generated by considering the structure with only the real part of the permittivity profile (note that this well includes the imaginary parts of the complex refractive indices, to some degree). The real propagation constants of bound modes found for these permittivity profiles then serve as starting points for tracing roots in the complex plane, for structures with gradually increasing imaginary parts of the complex permittivity. The number of intermediate configurations can be selected via the element “Im ε, #steps”. Increasing this parameter might lead to further solutions being found, if the solver must be suspected to have missed a root. This applies in particular to configurations with near-degenerate solutions (decoupled regions), and/or to configurations with balanced nonzero loss and gain.

Among the solutions with non-real effective indices, *bound* modes and *leaky* modes differ in the boundary conditions satisfied by the mode profiles at x = ± ∞, or in the choice of elementary solutions for the pieces of the profile in the half-infinite substrate and cover regions, respectively. If the option “bound & leaky modes” is selected, the solver starts with initial guesses computed for a permittivity profile with potentially reduced permittivity ε_{ext} on one or both of the exterior regions. By de-selecting the “Auto”-checkbox, a value can be directly provided; otherwise, the solver uses the minimum permittivity level of all layers (N ≤ 1), or the minimum level on the interior layers (N ≥ 2) as a default. Also here the parameter “Im ε, #steps” controls the number of intermediate configurations with gradually raised outer permittivity that are considered when tracing the complex modal eigenvalues of the leaky modes.

While the found modes should be valid solutions in all cases, one must not rely too much on the scripts being able to find the most relevant modes, or to find all existing modes, for that matter. By construction, the solver is intended for configurations where the true complex eigensolutions are located close to the real modes of a “closeby” real structure. In many cases, however, these heuristics have been observed to work adequately.

Output

A table shows, for each mode that has been found, the complex mode eigenvalue in the form of either

- the effective index N
_{eff}, or - the propagation constant γ = β - i α, for phase propagation constant β and attenuation constant α,

related as γ = k N_{eff}, where
k = 2π/λ
is the vacuum wavenumber associated with the specified vacuum wavelength λ.

In case of strictly bound fields the mode identifier indicates the polarization and a mode order, the number of nodes in the real part of the principal electric component
E_{y} of the profile of TE modes, and in the principal magnetic component
H_{y} of the profile of TM modes, determined for the real mode that served as the initial guess (cf. the preceding section) for the true complex field.
For leaky modes, that order index is replaced by two characters, one of “l” or “b”, for the type of boundary condition / elementary field type that the mode obeys in the substrate (first index) and cover regions (second index). Here
“l” indicates a leaky wave that propagates outwards, accompanied by an outwards more or less strong exponential growth of the mode profile,
while “b” hints at a normalizable, outwards exponentially decaying bound profile.

The solver determines *forward* modes, with positive propagation constant β,
or positive real part of effective mode index. In line with the convention adopted for the refractive index (see first section), modal attenuation is indicated by a positive attenuation constant α, or a negative imaginary part of the effective index, respectively. Likewise, a negative α or positive imaginary part of N_{eff} indicates modal gain.
In case of an attenuated mode, the solver also shows a propagation length L_{p} = 1/(2 α), the propagation distance over which the intensity associated with the modal field diminishes by a factor of 1/e.

If the interior stack contains (thick) layers with, when compared to other guiding regions, low permittivity, it can happen that the multilayer structure supports modes that are, for all practical purposes, restricted to some part of the structure only. A typical example would be a directional coupler (here 1-D), consisting of two high index cores with a thick buffer layer of low index material in between. With increasing distance between the cores, the “supermodes” of the full structure become more and more degenerate, i.e. “numerically decoupled”. The solver detects these scenarios, and replaces the true supermodes by modes of the individual cores, with (near) zero amplitudes in the respective other core. Modes determined in this way show up with an additional entry (x) in the list of effective indices and propagation constants. Note that these fields are true eigenfunctions for all numerical and practical purposes.

Referring to the Cartesian coordinate system as introduced above, the present frequency-domain model concerns optical electric fields
** E** and magnetic fields

All fields are constant along the y-direction. The profiles of TE slab modes are of the form
**E**(x) = (0, E_{y}, 0)(x), and
**H**(x) = (H_{x}, 0, H_{z})(x), where
**E** and **H** are the electric and magnetic parts of the mode profile, respectively, depending
on the normal coordinate x only.
Likewise, the profiles of TM slab modes can be written as
**E**(x) = (E_{x}, 0, E_{z})(x), and
**H**(x) = (0, H_{y}, 0)(x).
In general, the profile components E_{x}, …, H_{z} are complex functions of x, with a phase that may also vary with x.

Being solutions of eigenvalue problems, the mode profiles are determined up to some
complex constant only. No units are shown for their electric or
magnetic fields. Still the given values correspond to a normalization of
the modes to unit power flow: The integral along the x-axis of the longitudinal component S_{z}
of the Poynting vector evaluates to 1 W/µm (power per lateral (y) unit length).
Correspondingly, all electric fields are given in units of V/µm, magnetic fields
are measured in A/µm, the components of the Poynting vector **S** have units of
V·A/µm^{2} = W/µm^{2}, and the electromagnetic energy density
w is measured in W·fs/µm^{3}. In this context the vacuum permittivity and
permeability, respectively, are
ε_{0} = 8.85·10^{-3} A·fs/(V·µm) and
µ_{0} = 1.25·10^{3} V·fs/(A·µm).
In case of (partly) leaky modes with outwards exponentially growing profiles on one or both of the exterior regions, the normalization
is computed by excluding the respective region(s) from the power integration. The global phase of the mode profiles is chosen such that
the profile becomes real at the position of the maximum of the principal field component (E_{y} for TE, H_{y} for TM polarization)
on the domain of the interior layers (or at the single interface, for N = 0).

Mode profile plots show the real and imaginary parts of the complex field profile, its absolute value, or the absolute squared profile. The background shading indicates the medium properties, where darker shading means higher permittivity. After selecting "Plot", the extent of the vertical axis is being adjusted such that it covers the maximum values, determined separately for the electric field strength, magnetic field strength, Poynting vector, and the energy density, over all modes (and all their field components) that have been identified by the solver, on a default x range. This is to make the plots comparable. Select the button labeled "↕" to adjust the vertical plot range to the functions that are actually displayed.

Single components ψ ∈ {E_{x}, …, H_{z}}
of the complex-valued electromagnetic mode profile relate to time-varying physical fields
*Ψ*(x, t) = Re ψ(x) exp(i ω t)
at z = 0. The animations show the respective component
at recurring points in time, equally distributed over the period of 2π/ω.

Alternatively, propagation plots can be displayed. These show a component of the total physical
electromagnetic field ** E**,

Select points on the planes of the plots to inspect precise local field levels. Clicks outside the actual axes close the coordinate displays. In case of a propagation plot, the "▯"-button toggles a colorbar. Select a field level on the colorbar to superimpose the field plot with a pseudo-contour at that level. Also here the contours are removed by a click in the colorbar area outside the axes.