Lumerical-NNIN/C partnership accelerates nanophotonics research

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Lumerical has donated ten FDTD Solutions Engine licenses to the National Nanotechnology Infrastructure Network Computation Project. The joint capabilities of the 224 core HPC system and the donated licenses, freely accessible to NNIN members, promise to speed nanophotonics design efforts across the United States.

Vancouver, BC (February 22, 2010)

Lumerical Solutions, Inc., a leading provider of nanophotonics design software, today announced the donation of software licenses to the National Nanotechnology Infrastructure Network Computation Project (NNIN/C), a 14 university initiative, funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), to establish a national computing resource that is open to the academic and industrial research community. Each of the ten FDTD Solutions Engine licenses donated to the NNIN/C enable a current FDTD Solutions customer to run, at no additional cost, large-scale electromagnetic simulations on any number of the 224 cores that are part of the NNIN/C facility located at Harvard University.

“NNIN/C is dedicated to meeting the computational hardware and software needs of experimentalists and high performance computing specialists in nanoscience,” according to NNIN/C Director Michael Stopa. “We have always focused on state-of-the-art codes that are really advancing cutting-edge research both in basic science and in nanoscale engineering. That’s why the relationship with Lumerical is perfect for us. We already had six groups at Harvard for whom the Lumerical FDTD package was crucial to their research. This very generous donation by Lumerical will help us to meet the growing demand of those groups as well as helping to make NNIN/C a nexus nationally for photonics research.”

“With a strong commitment to nanoscience and demonstrated expertise in the field of high performance computing, it is hard to imagine that we could have found a better partner to promote nanophotonics research in the US,” according to Dr. James Pond, Lumerical’s Chief Technology Officer. “The performance gains that FDTD Solutions users will experience when running their simulations on NNIN/C’s hardware will allow for rapid concept assessment and design optimization.”

FDTD Solutions can model the electromagnetic response of nanoscale optical devices, systems and materials including silicon photonics components, photonic crystals, metamaterials, solid-state emitters, thin-film solar cells and components that make use of surface plasmons. Surface plasmon devices, which involve localized confinement of light at metallic interfaces, are of increasing interest for activities such as designing ultra-compact waveguides, generating large local field enhancements in metallic nanohole arrays, and engineering decay rates for fluorescence enhancement in bio-sensing applications.

One group that intends to make use of the announced facilities is the Loncar group at Harvard University, which is pioneering novel nanophotonic structures for applications in optomechanics, quantum optics, and on-chip optical information processing. “FDTD Solutions is surprisingly simple to learn, yet powerful and highly scalable on state-of-the-art computing facilities,” according to Murray McCutcheon, a post-doctoral research fellow in that group. “We look forward to making use of the licenses donated by Lumerical to the NNIN Computing Facilities at Harvard. These licenses will be used by a growing community of users at Harvard who share and benefit from each other’s simulation expertise, which is backed up by Lumerical’s exceptional support team.”

The joint capabilities being announced will also benefit the Chang-Hasnain Research Group at the University of California, Berkeley. Their research involves fabricating nanoscale optoelectronic devices where metal optics, plasmonics, and high-contrast dielectric confinement are all useful tools for coupling light into quantum-scale nanostructures. According to Dr. Forrest Sedgwick, a post-doctoral researcher in that group, “the combination of Lumerical’s FDTD software and the high performance computing available at Harvard NNIN/C offers the flexibility to rapidly explore the design space and zero in on the most promising designs for fabrication. Lumerical’s intuitive interface and powerful scripting language allow us to focus on the physics of our problem rather than on details of simulation, and the computing power made available by the NNIN/C allows for the small grid spacing and long simulation time required for studying devices like high-Q micro-resonators.”

The donated licenses are also accessible to scientific staff at non-profit organizations and government research labs with interests in nanophotonics who need to quickly generate simulation results in order to efficiently explore a wide set of design parameters.

“We use Lumerical’s FDTD Solutions to solve Maxwell’s equations for light transmission through arrays of subwavelength openings of various shapes,” according to Dr. John Weiner, a Visiting Fellow in the Nanofabrication Research Group in the Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology at the National Institute for Standards and Technology in Gaithersburg, Maryland. “Our primary focus is on the basic physics of the light transmission and what parameters are critical to light transmission optimization and suppression, but we also have interest in studying radiation pressure and electromagnetic momentum transfer in metamaterials and bow-tie antennas. I look forward to running such simulations on NNIN’s high performance computing facilities.”

To gain access to the NNIN computing facilities, which are administered by the Center for Nanoscale Systems at Harvard University, please visit

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