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A complete design flow for silicon photonics

James Pond*
, Chris Cone
, Lukas Chrostowski
, Jackson Klein
, Jonas Flueckiger
, Amy Liu
Dylan McGuire
, Xu Wang

Lumerical Solutions, Inc., 535 Thurlow Street, Vancouver, BC, Canada V6E 3L2;
Graphics, 8005 SW Boeckman Road, Wilsonville, OR, USA, 97070;
Electrical and Computer
Engineering, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada V6T 1Z4
Broad adoption of silicon photonics technology for photonic integrated circuits requires standardized design flows that
are similar to what is available for analog and mixed signal electrical circuit design. We have developed a design flow
that combines mature electronic design automation (EDA) software with optical simulation software.
An essential component of any design flow, whether electrical or photonic, is the ability to accurately simulate large-
scale circuits. This is particularly important when the behavior of the circuit is not trivially related to the individual
component performance. While this is clearly the case for electronic circuits consisting of hundreds to billions of
transistors, it is already becoming important in photonic circuits such as WDM transmitters, where signal cross talk
needs to be considered, as well as optical cross-connect switches. In addition, optical routing to connect different
components requires the introduction of additional waveguide sections, waveguide bends, and waveguide crossings,
which affect the overall circuit performance. Manufacturing variability can also have dramatic circuit-level
consequences that need to be simulated. Circuit simulations must rely on compact models that can accurately represent
the behavior of each component, and the compact model parameters must be extracted from physical level simulation
and experimental results.
We show how large scale circuits can be simulated in both the time and frequency domains, including the effects of
bidirectional and, where appropriate, multimode and multichannel photonic waveguides. We also show how active,
passive and nonlinear individual components such as grating couplers, waveguides, splitters, filters, electro-optical
modulators and detectors can be simulated using a combination of electrical and optical algorithms, and good agreement
with experimental results can be obtained. We then show how parameters, with inclusion of fabrication process
variations, can be extracted for use in the circuit level simulations. Ultimately, we show how a multi-channel WDM
transceiver can be created, from schematic design to tapeout, using key features of EDA design flows such as schematic
driven layout, design rule checking and layout versus schematic.
Keywords: photonics, simulation, silicon photonics, photonic integrated circuits, electronic design automation (EDA),
design flow, process design kit (PDK), photonic circuit simulation
Silicon photonics is a cost effective technology that can enable large scale photonic integrated circuits for a variety of
applications, from bio-sensing circuits to on-chip and intra-chip communication systems. Broad adoption of silicon
photonics requires standardized design flows comparable to what is available for electronic circuits [1-3]. We have
developed a complete design flow for silicon photonics that harnesses decades of investment in electronic design
automation (EDA) tools combined with state of the art photonic simulation tools [4-5].
The design flow is shown in Figure 1, and is based on schematic driven design starting with Mentor Graphics Pyxis
Schematic. Users can simulate photonic circuits with INTERCONNECT and can choose to view results either in
INTERCONNECT or in Pyxis EZwave. For the circuit simulations to be meaningful, a Process Design Kit (PDK) must
be pre-populated with validated compact models. The creation of a PDK requires a large number of component level
simulations and parameter extraction, validated by experimental results. A generic, non-proprietary silicon photonics
design kit is available for download at which makes it possible for end-users to test the
design flow described in this paper.
From Pyxis Schematic, a user can create the layout with Pyxis Layout. This allows for design verification such as design
rule checking (DRC), layout versus schematic (LVS) and even lithography simulation. The results of the layout and
Silicon Photonics and Photonic Integrated Circuits IV, edited by Laurent Vivien, Seppo Honkanen,
Lorenzo Pavesi, Stefano Pelli, Proc. of SPIE Vol. 9133, 913310 2014 SPIE
CCC code: 0277-786X/14/$18 doi: 10.1117/12.2052050
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design verification can then be fed back into the circuit simulation to predict the impact of the physical layout. This is
particularly important because the waveguide lengths, bend placements, crossings can have a major impact on circuit
performance. Furthermore, photonic components can be extremely sensitive to lithography effects: for example, the
lithographic smoothing of a nominally rectangular waveguide Bragg grating can have a dramatic impact on the
bandwidth of the device. Therefore this flow contemplates the direct simulation of components from the layout,
including lithography effects, to spot check components and, if necessary, to re-extract parameters for circuit simulation.
Since silicon photonics is a relatively immature technology, and a great deal of innovation is ongoing at the component
level, designers will often have to work with a combination of two approaches schematic design or layout design and
perform a combination of circuit level and component level simulations. As the technology continues to mature, the need
for layout-centric design and component level simulation will be reduced while schematic-driven design and circuit
simulations will become dominant.
This paper will focus on some of the key aspects of this design flow related to circuit and device simulation: the
simulation of photonic circuits and systems; component simulation and parameter extraction; the development of
compact models; parameterized compact models in the PDK; manufacturing non-uniformity; and component level
simulation after lithography simulation. Finally, we will show an example of designing a wavelength division
multiplexing (WDM) system with this flow.

Figure 1. The design flow is based on a schematic driven design. Mentor Graphics tools are used to create a schematic
(Pyxis Schematic) and layout (Pyxis Layout) and to perform layout verification steps (Calibre nmDRC, LFD, Calibre
nmLVS). For optical simulations Lumerical tools are used, i.e. Lumerical INTERCONNECT for photonics system/circuit
simulations and FDTD Solutions, MODE solutions, and DEVICE for PDK development and spot check simulations.
Time and frequency domain simulation of bidirectional, multimode and multichannel circuit topologies
Optical circuit simulation for design and verification is a key part of the design flow. Circuit simulation requires
nonlinear transient analysis and scattering data analysis to capture the optical and electrical signal waveforms in the time
domain and the frequency domain, respectively.
Although photonic integration has much in common with electronic integration, a major difference is the variety of
components and technologies in photonics, and the nature of the signals that needs to be included in the simulation
(wavelength, phase, polarization, etc.). Lasers, modulators, couplers, filters and detectors are just a few of the different
components present in a PIC. Furthermore, each one of these components has different operation principles and
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materials. As will be discussed in the next section, circuit simulations rely on proper compact models that accurately
represent the optical and electrical responses of these components in time and frequency domain. Additionally, the
optical simulation and analysis of PICs is particularly challenging because it also involves bidirectional, multichannel
and even multimode propagation of light [6].
INTERCONNECT photonic integrated circuits are composed of individual elements such as optical waveguides, phase
modulators and photodetectors, linked by connections that transmit electrical and optical signals. Elements are the
fundamental blocks of the circuit and they are represented by parameters and compact models. A ring resonator element,
for example, can be modeled using an analytical equation or a scattering matrix. In both cases the compact model defines
the relationship between the elements input and output ports. The accuracy of the simulation is defined by the quality of
the compact model and its parameters. Parameter extraction is then a key process in this methodology as will be
discussed in a subsequent section.
One interesting aspect of photonic integrated circuit simulation is that the waveguides themselves must be seen as
components of the circuit, rather than as simple wires that connect other components. Therefore an eigenmode solver
should be used to extract key waveguide propagation properties such as mode profiles, effective index, and dispersion.
The waveguide losses, which are largely due to manufacturing imperfections such as sidewall roughness are often best
determined experimentally.
Frequency domain analysis
Frequency domain analysis is modeled on the same type of scattering analysis used in the high-frequency electrical
domain for solving microwave circuits, enabling bidirectional signals to be accurately simulated [7]. However, it has
been extended to allow for an arbitrary number of modes supported in the waveguide elements with possible coupling
between those modes that can occur in any element. Consequently, the scattering matrix of a given element describes
both the relationship between its input and output ports and the relationship between its input and output modes.

Figure 2. Block diagram of an INTERCONNECT circuit. Each element (A, B, C and D) is represented by a scattering
matrix that defines the relationship between an arbitrary number of input and output ports and modes (). IA is the circuit
source and its output contains two modes.
Scattering analysis requires that the scattering matrix of each element in the circuit elements be known. This is not the
case for circuits that contain opto-electronic devices, such as ring modulators, where the scattering matrix of the ring
depends on its driving voltage. INTERCONNECT performs a preliminary simulation during which the circuit elements
calculate their own scattering matrices. For example, the ring modulator can calculate its scattering matrix depending on
the steady-state electrical signal input, enabling simulations of PICs containing both passive optical components and
active opto-electronic elements. The preliminary calculation can also determine the coupling coefficients between two
waveguides by performing overlap integration between waveguide modes before starting the scattering analysis,
allowing the scattering matrix of a waveguide to combine its propagation properties and coupling losses into a single
scattering matrix.
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Figure 3. INTERCONNECT scattering data analysis includes the effects of coupling between different waveguides by
taking into account each elements transverse mode profiles.
After running a frequency domain simulation, a comprehensive set of measurements on the complex transmission
spectra can be calculated. Typical results include gain, phase, dispersion and group velocity. Spectral peak analysis can
also be performed to calculate free spectral range (FSR), bandwidth, Q-factor, and other key parameters.

Figure 4. Scattering data analysis of the simple Fabry-Perot resonator shown in the inset makes it possible to calculate key
design parameters such as FSR and Q-factor.
It is possible to perform a parameter extraction of a sub-circuit by calculating and exporting its overall scattering matrix.
Once established, the sub-circuit can be replaced by its equivalent scattering matrix element, improving simulation
Time domain analysis
Time domain analysis is performed using a dynamic data flow simulator [8]. When a simulation runs, data flows from
the output port of one element to one or more input ports of one or more connected elements. When an element receives
data, its compact model applies its behavior to the data and generates the appropriate output. In the time domain
simulation, data is represented as a stream of samples. Each sample represents the value of the signal at a specific point
in time. In addition to optical signals, INTERCONNECT supports digital and electrical signal types. This flexibility to
represent different types of element behavior and signal types enables the development of compact models that can
comprehensively address the variety of nonlinear opto-electronic devices present in photonic integrated circuits.
Similar to the frequency domain simulations, the multimode nature of optical components is also included in the time
domain simulation, and is not limited to two orthogonal modes or polarizations. INTERCONNECT optical signal
support an arbitrary number of modes and base bands, giving designers the capability to simulate bidirectional,
multimode and multichannel optical circuits.
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INTERCONNECT relies upon Infinite Impulse Response (IIR) and Finite Impulse Response (FIR) digital filters to
implement frequency dependent behavior in time domain simulations. For each signal mode and signal band, a
corresponding digital filter is created, addressing complex single or multimode wavelength division multiplexing
(WDM) devices. By supporting multiple baseband signals for coarse WDM circuits, one for each channel, different
digital filters can be applied to different bands, reducing the limitations and trade-offs as to how well these digital filters
can apply a desired frequency response to a time domain signal. Typical limitations are the ripple introduced by FIR
filters due to the finite length of the impulse response. For instance, each scattering matrix in INTERCONNECT defines
the relationship between an input and output signal mode, and each scatter parameter is defined by a vector of digital
filters, where each filter is centered at the center frequency of the corresponding signal baseband.

Figure 5. The scattering matrix is a container of multiple modes and digital filters centered at each signal baseband.
Time domain signal integrity analysis of a circuit under test is performed by analyzing the input or output signal at
different ports, which may be electrical, optical or digital. Eye diagrams can be calculated from the time domain
simulation and the resulting analysis can determine key signal integrity parameters such as bit error rate (BER), optimum
threshold and decision instant, and extinction ratio.

Figure 6. The eye diagram resulting from a simulation of an optical transceiver. The analysis of the eye diagram offers
insight into the nature of the circuit imperfections
In this section we will consider some examples of photonic components. We will demonstrate how they can be simulated
and show how parameters can be extracted to create compact models in INTERCONNECT. We will consider some
representative examples of components that are currently being used in manufactured photonic circuits such as
waveguide splitters, grating couplers, tapers, spot size converters, modulators and photodetectors. Simulations examples
of next generation components, such as nonlinear devices and integrated gain media can be found at [9].
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Waveguide splitters
Simple waveguide splitters can be achieved by making y-junctions or directional couplers [5]. More complex splitters
that are less sensitive to manufacturing imperfections can involve adiabatic tapers [10]. It is relatively simple to create
compact models for these devices, for example, by specifying an insertion loss (IL) and a splitting ratio. In general
though, these devices can be well modeled by S parameters which allows us to include frequency dependent effects and
different reflections on every port. S-parameters can be extracted from FDTD simulations by using modal expansion. A
typical simulation setup is shown in Figure 7. The structure has been optimized using Particle Swarm Optimization
(PSO) to reduce IL and reflections, which can be seen from the unusual shape of the splitting region and is similar to the
designs in [5] and [11]. An eigenmode solver is used to calculate the desired input mode and excite the system. The EM
field is recorded at the 3 ports and then expanded on the desired output modes. Using modal expansion, we can not only
calculate the coefficients of all desired modes but also determine the forward and backward propagating coefficients.
This allows us, for example, to use a single field monitor at port 1 to extract not only S
, but also to obtain the input
power for normalization of all S parameters. Since this is a 3 port system, in general 3 simulations are needed to extract
the full S parameter. However, symmetry considerations often allow us to reduce the total number of simulations.


Figure 7. (a) The simulation setup of a splitter and (b) EM field considerations for defining S parameters.
There are two important considerations when working with S-parameters for optical waveguides: firstly, the waveguide
modes are not necessarily power orthogonal meaning that the total power in the waveguide is not simply the sum of the
power in each individual mode present; and, secondly, the vectorial nature of the EM modal fields introduces additional
complexity compared to a scalar quantity like voltage.
Waveguide power orthogonality: Fortunately, in non-absorbing waveguides, the waveguide modes are power
orthogonal which greatly simplifies the analysis. While there is always some absorption in real waveguides, in most
practical circuits it is sufficiently low that we can make the approximation that the waveguide modes are power
orthogonal. Care should be exercised when this approximation is invalid. For example, the waveguides used in many Ge
photodiodes are clearly such a case.
Vectorial nature of waveguide modes: In general, a standard sign and phase convention for the E and H fields of
forward and backward propagating modes should be used for all ports of a component. Typically, in a non-absorbing
waveguide, the transverse E and H fields are chosen to be real-valued. The backward propagating mode has the same
field profile but the tangential H field and normal E field components are reversed in sign. The S-parameters are the
complex coefficients of the forward and backward propagating modes, once all modes have been normalized to carry the
same power. This means that the S-parameters can have additional negative signs that may not be expected. For
example, the S
coefficient in a 180 degree U-bend will have an additional negative sign for TE-like modes but not for
TM-like modes, which can be seen Figure 7b. This is simply due to the fact that the physical fields in the waveguide are
the S-parameter coefficients multiplied by the (fully vectorial) modal fields of the waveguide and a 180 degree rotation
will reverse the direction of some field components. Furthermore, we must be careful when using symmetry
considerations to reduce the number of simulations or measurements that need to be made since the symmetry of the
modal fields must be considered.
Finally, small numerical errors in the S-matrix may cause it to violate passivity, particularly for devices with extremely
low IL such as waveguide couplers. This can be fixed by using a variety of methods, from fitting with rational functions
to using singular value decomposition to scale the S matrix such that its 2-norm is less than or equal to 1. More details
can be found in [4] and [5].
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After simulation, we can extract the S parameter for the device which are shown in Figure 8. The device has low IL and
shows an output of close to the ideal 3dB. The reflection is less than 30 dB over most of the spectrum. While this
reflection appears small, it is still important to consider for many applications, particularly for semiconductor lasers
integrated with silicon photonics without an isolator. The phase of S
is linearly increasing with frequency which is
expected since this is a non-resonant device and the group delay is associated mainly with the propagation length.


Figure 8. The E field profile of the device at 1.55 microns on a linear (a) and a log scale (b).



Figure 9. (a) The parameters S
and S
shown on a dB scale, and (b) the angle of S
and S
in degrees plotted as a
function of frequency rather than wavelength.
Grating couplers
Grating couplers are also passive devices that can be simulated by S parameters. These can be extracted in a similar way
to waveguide splitters. The additional complexity is that fiber modes must be used and typically the fiber mode is
incident at an angle to the device. Fortunately, the modal expansion can be done even when the EM fields are known
over an angled cross section of the fiber. Grating couplers have sufficiently high IL that small numerical errors do not
lead to passivity violations in the S-matrix. However, there can be small violations of reciprocity when broadband
simulations are used. However, the S matrix can easily be made reciprocal after simulation with S = 0.5(S+S


Figure 10. The simulation setup for a grating coupler in 2D (a) and 3D (b).
The simulation setup for grating couplers is shown in Figure 10. The fiber is cleaved at an angle of to reduce reflections
and the grating coupler is designed accordingly. We can calculate the S parameters for the device, which are shown in
Figure 11. We can see that the 2D and 3D results are very similar and it makes sense for a designed to optimize this
device in 2D before running a 3D simulation for final S parameter extraction. Each 3D FDTD simulation of this device
takes about 9 minutes on a 4 processor (32 core total) AMD workstation from 2010. The 2D FDTD simulations take a
few seconds. We can also see that the S matrix is not perfectly reciprocal except near the center frequency, which is due
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O A -

I -

to numerical errors associated with the broadband excitation of the system by a waveguide mode calculated at one
wavelength. Practically, this can be forced to be reciprocal, as mentioned above, or simulations can be run over smaller
bandwidths and the results can be stitched. Finally, the phase of the S parameters (not shown here) is also linearly
increasing with frequency for S
and S

Figure 11. The S parameters for a grating coupler simulated in 2D and 3D.
Tapers and spot size converters
Tapers can be simulated by FDTD and the S parameters can be extracted. However, these devices are often on the order
of 100 m in length and 3D FDTD simulations can begin to take up to an hour per simulation on a single workstation,
and sometimes longer when a fine mesh size is used. An alternative is to use the Eigenmode Expansion (EME) method.
The computational cost of EME scales exceptionally well with the propagation distance, making it an ideal method for
simulating long passive devices. We have compared EME with 3D FDTD for the spot size converter in [12] and the
results are shown in Figure 12. The EME results agree well with 3D FDTD but the full length sweep of the taper can be
generated in a few minutes, compared to 6 hours for the 11 data points shown calculated by 3D FDTD.


Figure 12. (a) The transmission for the spot-size converter in [12] (and shown in (b)) calculated using the EME solver and
3D FDTD. The EME simulation took 3 minutes to simulate 101 different taper lengths (blue squares), whereas 3D FDTD
took 6 hours to simulate 11 different taper lengths (green squares) on the same workstation.
Electro-optic modulators
Electro-optic modulators encode an electrical signal onto an optical channel. A multitude of different configurations are
being evaluated for research and commercial interests, including travelling-wave (Mach-Zehnder), ring, and photonic
crystal modulators. Electrically, either the spatial distribution of the free carrier density or the electric field is used to
perturb the refractive index of the material. These effects are achieved using integrated PN/PIN junctions or MOS/SIS
capacitors to control the charge density or electric field, respectively, in the active region [13-16].
The electrical response of the modulator to an applied voltage is simulated using Lumericals DEVICE. The Poisson and
drift-diffusion equations are solved self-consistently to calculate the distribution of electrostatic potential V, electron
density n, and hole density p within the semiconductor. In the development of the compact model, DC steady-state
simulations were performed to determine the spatial distributions of free carriers as a function of the applied bias. The
static junction capacitance vs. voltage (C-V) characteristics are calculated from the differential charge in response to a
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voltage perturbation:
[ ] V V Q V V Q dV dQ C + = / ) ( ) ( /
. Total charge is determined either by volume integration
in the case of the PN junction or by surface integration of the electric field flux (Gauss's law) in the case of the MOS
capacitor. The C-V characteristic for the PN junction modulator [13] is shown in Figure 13a.
The carrier-induced change in the refractive index (n and k) over the waveguide due to the free-carrier plasma
dispersion effect can be calculated using a wavelength-dependent silicon model [17]. The electron and hole density
calculated in the electrical simulation is used to create a material with a spatially-varying index in the active region
according to
( ) ( )
( ) ( )
p n
p n

18 18
um 55 . 1
8 . 0 18 22
um 55 . 1
10 6 10 5 . 8
10 5 . 8 10 8 . 8

+ =
) is the local density of electrons (holes), is defined in cm
units, and the coefficients are chosen for a
central wavelength of 1.55m. The carrier densities vary as a function of the applied voltage.
The effective index and loss of the waveguide are calculated using Lumericals MODE Solutions, which solves
Maxwells equations on a finite difference mesh of the waveguide cross section. Following the design described in [13],
a 5mm arm length is assumed to calculate the relative phase shift
{ } ) (
) (
V n

which is plotted in Figure 13b.
-1 0 1 2 3 4

Voltage (V)

measured [1]

-1 0 1 2 3 4 5
Voltage (V)




measured (bot.) [1]
measured (top) [1]

Figure 13: DC steady-state characteristics of electro-optic modulator, with design and measurements from [13]. The
simulated junction capacitance (a) is fit against the measured result by adjusting the doping profile. The corresponding
relative phase shift (b) is calculated for a 5mm arm.

Waveguide integrated photodetectors
At the receiver, photo-detectors convert the optical signal into an electrical one and recover the information encoded on
the optical channel. These components can be accurately simulated using a combination of optical and electrical solvers.
An FDTD simulation calculates the distribution of the electric and magnetic fields, which can be related to the loss or
absorbed power in the materials [18]:
( ) ( ) ( ) { } , ,
r r E r =
Assuming that each absorbed photon generates an electron-hole pair, the local generation rate, G, can be related to the
absorbed power, P, through integration over frequency,
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L a

7 0
5 0
3 0
0 . 0 0 . 5 1 . 0 1 . 5


( ) ( )

d P G ,
r r
This generation rate then appears as a source term in the continuity equations solved in the electrical simulation. This
approach is suitable for a variety of photodetector topologies, including those most commonly found in silicon photonics
Typically, germanium is used as the absorbing medium in detectors for silicon photonics applications given its good
absorbance in the C-band and its relative ease of integration into standard silicon CMOS processing [19]. Lumericals
FDTD Solutions, MODE Solutions and DEVICE can be used to simulate and optimize germanium-on-silicon
photodetectors in all typical layouts, including butt- and evanescent-coupled components. The active region of the
detector is defined in the germanium by a diode, commonly in a lateral or vertical PIN configuration or a lateral MSM
configuration [19 and refs. within].



Figure 14: The simulation setup (a) of the VPD from [20], with 3D view shown in inset. The electrical simulation region is
shown in right-half plane. The optical generation rate from the FDTD simulation is shown (b) in the cross-section A-A and
(c) the cross-section B-B averaged in the direction of propagation. The latter is the input to the electrical simulation.


Figure 15: Steady state response of the simulated photodetector. Geometry from [20]. The dark and illuminated IV
characteristic (a) is simulated at T=300K, with dark current 0.3uA at 1V reverse bias, and a saturation current of 1mA. The
dark current (b) is also mapped as a function bias voltage and temperature.
As an example, we simulate the response of an evanescently-coupled vertical Ge-on-Si photodetector based on the
design of [20]. An FDTD simulation is performed using a fundamental mode source as the optical input. The simulation
setups and a cross-section of the absorbed power and corresponding generation rate is shown in Figure 14. This
generation rate, averaged in the direction of optical propagation, is used as source term in the electrical simulation.
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r v

1 0
7 0 2 4 6 8 1 0
V o l t a g e ( V )

In the absence of illumination, the dark current of the component can be simulated as a function of bias voltage and
temperature (Figure 15b). This is an important measure of device performance as it contributes to the overall noise in the
detector, and includes the influence of both surface and bulk thermally driven recombination processes. Next the steady-
state current is simulated under illumination (Figure 15a), which yields the responsivity of 1A/W at 1V reverse bias,
comparable to the value of 0.9A/W reported in [20]. Finally, the transient response of the detector can be simulated with
a stepped optical input. In Figure 16a, the detector current step-response is simulated for a switched optical generation
rate source. From the FFT of the impulse response (Figure 16b), the bandwidth is estimated to be 3GHz, which indicates
that the detector is RC limited (the estimated transit-time limited response is >50GHz for a 0.5um thick germanium


Figure 16: Transient response (a) of current to 90uW optical signal applied as a step function at 100fs. The blue curve
represents the numerical derivative and is used to generate (b) the impulse response as a function of frequency.
Compact models are essential for the simulation of large-scale photonic integrated circuits. To be useful, these compact
models must exist in both the frequency and the time domains. While some passive optical components, such as splitters
or grating couplers can be well described using S-parameters, many components require highly sophisticated compact
models. In this section, we will show as an example how a compact model can be created for an electro-optical ring
modulator. We begin with rigorous, component level simulations of a reverse-biased PN diode using the design
presented in reference [21]. We then use the results for the PN diode to simulate the circuit level dynamic response of a
ring modulator circuit. This is then verified by running a 2.5D finite-difference time-domain (FDTD) simulation of a
ring with a refractive index that varies in time that shows good agreement with advanced component level simulation.
We can conclude that a quasi-static compact model, based on the response to a DC driving voltage, is insufficient to
correctly describe this device at high frequencies of operation.

Figure 17. From left to right: the refractive index profile; the optical mode profile; the change in refractive index as a
function of applied voltage; and the change in loss as a function of applied voltage.
PN diode
The response of the PN diode to an applied voltage is calculated using Lumericals DEVICE, and translated into a
spatially varying change in refractive index, as described in the previous section. The effective index and loss of the
waveguide are calculated using Lumericals MODE Solutions, which solves Maxwells equations on a finite difference
mesh of the waveguide cross section [22]. It is worth noting that perturbation theory is often used for this calculation,
i.e., assuming a stationary mode profile, with overlap calculations, but this may not be sufficiently accurate. In fact, for
small SOI waveguides it can introduce a large error, for example, nearly a 20% error in [23]. The refractive index of the
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x 1 0 4

n _ . _ Q

t i m e ( s )

0 . 8 -


3 5

waveguide (taking into account n and k from the electrical simulation) and the resultant optical mode profile are
shown in Figure 17. Using Lumericals DEVICE and MODE Solutions, one can calculate the change in effective index
and loss as a function of applied voltage for the PN diode, which is also shown in Figure 17.
Ring modulator

Figure 18. The sub-circuit compact model for the dynamic response of the ring. This compact model is itself composed of
phase shifting, waveguide, coupling and filtering elements.
With Lumericals INTERCONNECT, we can study the transient response of a ring modulator circuit based on the same
reverse-biased PN diode as shown in Figure 18. We can use the extracted voltage dependent effective index and loss
from the component level electro-optic simulations of the PN diode.
Figure 19 shows the steady-state and dynamic response of the ring modulator circuit. The steady state response is
calculated with a quasi-static approximation which assumes that the ring will have the same response to a driving
voltage as it does to a DC voltage, regardless of the frequency of operation. The dynamic response uses a full time
domain simulation in INTERCONNECT. For large input voltages, one can see the overshooting effect in the dynamic
response when the ring is suddenly brought out of resonance by the input electrical signal. This effect is physically
expected since the relatively high Q ring resonator has optical energy stored inside the ring which must be released at the
time the device is brought out of resonance [24]. Additionally, the capacitance of the PN diode leads to high frequency
roll off which can be simulated by adding a filter to the INTERCONNECT compact model based on the capacitance
extracted from DEVICE.

Figure 19. The steady-state and dynamic response of the ring modulator in a circuit level simulation (left) and the dynamic
response of a ring modulator simulated using a 2.5D FDTD method with a time-varying refractive index (right).
A component level simulation using a 2.5D FDTD method [25] was carried out to verify this response. This method is
ideal for optically large planar components because it offers comparable accuracy to 3D FDTD while only requiring the
simulation time and memory of a 2D FDTD simulation. By introducing a refractive index that varies in time, we can
observe the dynamic response of the ring modulator to an input electrical signal. Figure 19 also shows the response of
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' Q

the ring when a step index n is applied between 10ps and 20ps. This is very similar to the dynamic response from the
circuit level simulation with INTERCONNECT.
It is clear that sophisticated compact models are necessary to perform accurate photonic integrated circuit simulation. An
advanced designer may choose to simulate initially with a faster steady state model but move the more computationally
intensive dynamic model for final circuit verification.
We have shown how components can be simulated, parameters can be extracted and compact models can be created.
This approach is sufficient for fixed cell components that are validated once and then never changed. When
programmable cells are used for components that are parameterized, we are confronted with a new challenge because we
need a compact model for every possible value of the parameterized cell. Furthermore, we ideally would like to
parameterize cells not by their geometric properties such as waveguide length or gap width, but by their design intent
parameters such as Q-factor, free spectral range (FSR) and so on.
We could envisage an automated simulation of each component, prior to running any circuit simulation but this could be
extremely time consuming, particularly since cells specified by design intent parameters might require an optimization
phase to find the correct geometry that matches the design intent.
To solve this problem we pre-simulate a range of designs by sweeping the relevant geometric properties over all possible
values. While this involves a large number of simulations, the process only needs to be done once. The PDK can then be
populated with lookup tables that create a mapping between design intent parameters, compact models, and physical
geometries. It also makes it possible to explore manufacturing non-uniformity, as we shall see in the next section, and
perform statistical yield analysis.

Figure 20. Experimental results measured with 371 samples (left) and results simulated with INTERCONNECT using
300 samples (right).
Manufacturing non-uniformity also needs to be taken into account, particularly when designing silicon photonic circuits.
Resonator and interferometric devices, in particular, are highly sensitive to phase shifts due to waveguide geometry
variability. It is not uncommon to find that fabricated ring resonator variability across a chip, across a wafer, across a lot,
or lot-to-lot, is larger than the free spectral range of the resonator. For example, in [26], ring resonator variability across
a chip was measured. In our design flow, the manufacturing variability can be included within the INTERCONNECT
simulations, which is made possible by the lookup table approach presented in the previous section. Here, we assume a 1
nm r.m.s. thickness variation and a 5 nm r.m.s waveguide width variation. The optical spectra for the ring resonators in
[26] were simulated, and the optical spectra were analyzed using the same methods as used in the experiments. The
resonator peak wavelengths were located, and the group index was found by measuring the free spectra range; the
experimental and simulated results are shown in Figure 20. Each of the diagonal groups of data points corresponds to
one resonator mode (this graph is particularly useful to identify the same resonator mode on sets of data where the
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variability is greater than the FSR). The impact of the thickness and width variations show a clear variability in the
resonator wavelengths, related to the waveguide parameters (effective and group index). Such an analysis also allows a
correlation between the resonator wavelength variations and the physical parameters (thickness, width). Specifically,
height and thickness variations have different impacts on the effective index and group index. For a 500x220 nm strip
waveguide, height variations lead to a neff / ng = -0.86, whereas width variations lead to neff / ng = 4.25. The
opposite signs and different magnitudes indicate that the geometry variations (width and height) can be separated and
extracted from experimental data. From a design methodology perspective, and for a given manufacturing process with
known fabrication variations (width, thickness), the designer can predict the circuit variability. This is similar to the
common electronics EDA techniques such as corner analysis (typical-typical, fast-fast, slow-slow) or Monte Carlo
simulations. Such an approach is critical in determining whether a photonic integrated circuit will work repeatability in a
manufacturing process, and can help identify the tuning requirements (where to put thermal tuners, how much tuning is
As we have seen in the previous section, many photonic devices can be extremely sensitive to geometric variations. For
example, a waveguide coupler is highly sensitive to the gap between the two waveguides. It can therefore be useful to
perform lithography simulation for a particular process to see the difference between what is on the mask and what is
actually manufactured.
By combining the lithography simulations of Calibre with component simulations such as FDTD, we can fully
understand the impact of lithography on device performance. This approach has been used to study the impact of
lithography on waveguide Bragg gratings [27-28]. The waveguide gratings on the waveguide are designed to be quite
small, on the order of 10s of nm. Therefore when manufactured, the gratings become more sinusoidal in shape. By
calculating the post-lithography grating shape with Calibre, and then simulating the actual device with 3D FDTD,
excellent agreement between the experimental and simulated results can be obtained, as shown in Figure 21.

Figure 21. A waveguide Bragg grating that is designed to be made of square teeth but is manufactured as a sinusoidal-like
grating after lithography [27-28]. (a) The original structure in Pyxis and the resulting shape (blue lines) as calculated by
Calibre. (b) The lithography simulated structure imported into Lumericals FDTD Solutions. (c) Comparison of the FDTD
simulation of the pre- and post-lithography simulated design, and the experimental results.
It is unlikely that designers will perform lithography simulation on all components and then re-simulate them all with 3D
FDTD. However, it is possible for a designer to identify components that are particularly sensitive to lithography and
spot check some of them. If the performance deviates from expectation, it is possible to extract parameters, update
compact models and study the impact on the overall circuit performance. In addition, people developing PDKs and
associated compact models may find it easier to validate compact models against experimental results by extracting
parameters from devices that include lithography corrections by Calibre.
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In this section we show an example of how the full design flow can be used to create a WDM transceiver made of
cascaded ring modulators, which modulate light only at particular wavelengths and allow light at all other wavelengths
to pass through without been affected [29]. Having determined the optimum operation point of the ring modulator, one
can cascade several with different resonant wavelengths on a single waveguide, and modulate different wavelengths of
light independently. The schematic and layout for the cascaded modulators is shown in Figure 23.

Figure 22. Schematic capture (above), then layout (below) using Pyxis.

Figure 23. The circuit schematic and simulation results of an 8-channel WDM system interconnect with a comb laser as
input. Cascaded ring modulators, in detail, allow for modulation and multiplexing of multiple WDM channels. The resulting
eye-diagrams are shown.
The schematic, once drawn in Pyxis, can be exported as a netlist and simulated in INTERCONNECT, using compact
models developed with the methodologies we have described. The imported circuit can be seen in Figure 23, and the
resulting eye-diagrams are shown in the inset which allow key signal integrity parameters such as bit error rate to be
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determined. The effects of the non-ideal component performance, in particular the overshoot effect of each ring
modulator, can then be evaluated.
We have developed a full design flow for silicon photonics that makes it possible to reliably design, simulate, layout and
manufacture large scale photonic integrated circuits. We can achieve this by combining the highly mature EDA software
that has been developed for the electronics industry with state of the art photonic simulation software. To make silicon
photonics broadly accessible, it will be necessary to continue creating foundry-specific PDKs using this methodology
and this will be the subject of ongoing work.
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