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A comparison of vectorfiniteelement

formulations for waveguide analysis

S. Seller!, M. Zoboli

Dipartimentodilngegneriadell'Informazione, Parma University,

Viale delle Scienze, 1-43100 Parma, Italy

Abstract

A comparison between vectorial and semi-vectorial finite element

method (FEM) formulations for modal analysis of dielectric waveg-

uides is reported. The influence of the index step and of the mesh

distribution on the solution accuracy is investigated. In particular,

besides on the effective index, attention is focused on the correctness

of the field distributions whose evaluation is a crucial requirement in

waveguide analysis and related applications. As many authors have

been concentrated on the accuracy of the propagation constant, no

useful criteria have been proposed to test the spatial distribution of

the unknownfield.To overcame this lack two error figures have been

introduced and applied to different FEM solutions. In particular the

following formulations have been compared: that one based on the

transverse magnetic field, those based on the so called edge-elements

and a new formulation presented by the authors. Results show the

availability of the proposed approach and the usefulness of the intro-

duced figures for a deep waveguide analysis.

1 Introduction

been proposed for the analysis of dielectric and metallic waveguides at mi-

crowave, millimeter and optical frequencies. Their importance and reliabil-

ity can be assessed by means of various criteria such as the computational

Transactions on Engineering Sciences vol 11, 1996 WIT Press, www.witpress.com, ISSN 1743-3533

time and the memory occupancy or the ability to deal with spurious modes,

to directly solve for the propagation constant, to model structures with lossy

media and to provide the desired solution precision. For what concerns this

last aspect, the main attention has always been focused on the effective

index, or on the normalized propagation constant precision, rather than on

the field distribution so that no useful criteria have been assessed to mea-

sure the correctness of the unknown vector components, of their amplitude

ratio or of the polarization direction. Nonetheless these informations are

very important, in particular when accurate field values must be evaluated

in each point of the mesh as in the case of waveguide nonlinear analysis

[1]. This paper attempt to cover this lack through the usage of two error

figuresfirstintroduced by Vassallo [2]: the shape error and the size error.

These figures will be apply to compare the precision of the field distribution

evaluated by means of different vectorial and semi-vectorial formulations.

In particular, through the shape error, the effects of the refractive index

step variation and of the grid distribution on the evaluated field accuracy

will be investigated.

The paper is organized as follow; the next section will be devoted to briefly

summarize the formulations considered and compared in this work. Section

three will present a detailed and comparative error analysis of the solutions

of the different approaches. Conclusion follow.

the following differential problem:

Vx(r'Vx%)-^M = 0; (1)

have z dependence as H = H(x,y)e"^*. In (1) &o is the wavenumber and e

the relative permittivity tensor. By applying the finite element method to

the previous equation, it yields the following eigenvalue problem [3]:

(S]{H}-%[T]{H} = 0 (2)

where {//) is the vector of the unknown magnetic field values and [S] and

[T] are two symmetric and sparse matrices. In particular [S] depends on the

phase constant /?. The algebraic system thus obtained provides k* as the

eigenvalue. This is not an efficient approach and direct formulations must

be preferred for practical device design. Four different direct formulations

are considered in the following. The first one has been proposed by Lu et

al. [4]. By imposing the divergence condition on the curl-curl equation, an

accurate and efficient direct formulation which involves only the transverse

Transactions on Engineering Sciences vol 11, 1996 WIT Press, www.witpress.com, ISSN 1743-3533

Software for Electrical Engineering 25

components of the magnetic field and which eliminates the spurious solu-

tions is obtained. This approach avoids to evaluate the longitudinal com-

ponent thus reducing the memory occupancy and the computational efforts

as well. Additionally this formulation has been here improved by using sec-

ond order triangular elements rather than bilinear rectangular ones as in

[4]. Besides allowing to better describe any geometrical shape of waveguide

cross-sections, and in particular the step fibre circular cross-section, these

elements considerably increases the solution accuracy. The second and the

third formulations, based on the edge elements, have been presented by

Lee et al. [5] and by Hay at a et al [6]. Following the definitions given in

[7] they will be referred as T\ and TI.S formulations. In the first case the

transverse field has been evaluated by means of six tangential unknowns for

each triangles [6], while by means of six tangential and two facial ones [5] in

the second one (high order edge element). Thanks to the edge element im-

plementation, Lee et ai introduced a transformation of variable to directly

compute the propagation constant. By substituting the unknown transverse

magnetic field component Ht with 0Ht, being 0 the phase constant, they

achieved an algebraic eigenvalue problem whose eigenvalue is represented

by an explicit known function of /3 itself.

The fourth formulation, presented in detail by the authors in [8], uses the

same transformation; it is applied to a full vectorial node-based FEM formu-

lation with the penalty function techniques [9]. This simple transformation

is useful when using edge elements as in [5] but it is no more sufficient

when node-based elements are considered. In this case, in fact, in order to

move the spurious solution spectrum away from the region of interest, the

functional corresponding to equation (1) must be modified adding the so

called penalty term [9]. This term changes the matrix [S] so that the cited

transformation is no more sufficient to the aim. Further calculations are

necessary [8] and yield:

[S']{H'}-p(r]{H'} = Q. (3)

problem where the frequency is an input parameter necessary to define

the first matrix and where the eigenvector and the eigenvalue are {//'} =

{/){#<}, {Hz}}? and /?* respectively. The matrices [S'} and [T'] are no

more symmetric but still sparse. To take full advantage of their sparsity

an algebraic solver has been specially developed for the case [10]. It is

important to outline that this formulation does not really eliminate the

spurious solutions; nonetheless it reveals to be particularly useful in the

case of dielectric waveguides where these solutions are completely shifted

out from the region of the guided modes. This node based formulation uses

second order triangulat elements.

Transactions on Engineering Sciences vol 11, 1996 WIT Press, www.witpress.com, ISSN 1743-3533

26 Software for Electrical Engineering

electric, step index, optical fibre has been considered as exact analytical

solutions are available. A similar analysis for closed waveguides is reported

in [8]. All of the approaches decribed in the previous section, besides start-

ing from different formulations, define different unknowns over each triangle

and consequently different shape functions. These choices will obviously af-

fect the final values of the component distributions. For this reason, it is

convenient not to limit the description of the numerical analysis precision

and of the reliability of each approach to the accuracy of the evaluated ef-

fective index. The field components must be tested as well. Thus two error

figures [2] have been introduced:

being t/> a single field component, the transverse one or the whole field vector

as well. In the previous figures || || indicates the L* norm and the subscript

ref refers to the analytical solution. While the shape error measures the

correctness of the unknown field component distribution, the size one gives

informations on the amplitude ratio of the components 0i and t/^.

-1

mode versus the normalized frequency. Fibre parameters: n, = 1.57, n^ =

1.55 and r = 1 fim.

As first results [8], Fig.l shows the relative error e% of the effective index

of the fundamental mode versus the normalized frequency v rk^Jn^ n^;

e is defined as (ric// - ^e//)/^e// being n^/ and n^j the numerical and the

Transactions on Engineering Sciences vol 11, 1996 WIT Press, www.witpress.com, ISSN 1743-3533

with HCO = 1.57, rid = 1.55 and r = 1 //m.

The TI.S edge element effective indices are the most precise. A consider-

able difference arises if the T\ formulation is considered so that the usage

of high order triangular elements seems to be necessary in order to obtain

an acceptable accuracy. The new node-based solution closely follows the

TI.S edge element one particulary in monomode regime, i.e. for v < 2.405,

and is more precise than that of the transverse formulation specially at

low frequencies. The reason of this behavior can be found in the fact that

the transverse approach does not evaluate the longitudinal component H^

whose amplitude, negligible at high frequencies, increases by decreasing the

frequency. Thus this lack degrades the effective index accuracy by coming

nearer and nearer to the cut-off condition. It is important to point out that

this phenomenon is quite troublesome as practical waveguides are commonly

used in monomode propagation regime.

Figure 2: The punctual distribution of arctg( Hy/H*) within the fibre core

for a numerical and an analytical solutions respectively.

symmetry of the step fibre suggests to analyze the whole transverse compo-

nent and the longitudinal one, rather than the three components along the

coordinate axes. Moreover particular care must be taken when evaluating

the shape and the size errors. In fact the polarization directions of the an-

alytical and the numerical solution may not coincide being the basis of the

numerical solver not known a priori. This effect is shown in Fig.2 where the

Transactions on Engineering Sciences vol 11, 1996 WIT Press, www.witpress.com, ISSN 1743-3533

values of the arctg( Hy/H^) are plotted for a numerical and an analytical

solutions respectively. As it can be observed by these distributions, the two

polarization directions are different and the fields must be rotated, as well

as normalized, before any comparison.

The Ht and HZ shape errors thus obtained are reported on Fig.3 versus

the mesh point number, for the fundamental mode HEu at a normalized

frequency i/ = 2.

node-bemad

T,, formula tic

edgeelements

formulation

T, edge

!<

Figure 3: The Ht and H^ shape errors versus the mesh point number. Fibre

parameters as in Fig.l; the HEu mode at v 2 has been considered.

While little differences arise for the minor component #,, the Ht shape

error curves can be clearly distinguished. The new node-based approach

provides the best figure while the two edge element formulations presents

the highest errors. This effect can be due to the nature of their unknowns,

which are related to the interelement interface tangential field rather than

to the field components along the coordinate axes. Finally the transverse

formulation traces a curve parallel to the node-based one as the same inter-

polating functions for the Ht component are used. Nonetheless the lack in

the evaluation of HZ considerably reduces its accuracy.

Notice that no figures involving H^ can be obtained for the transverse for-

mulation. As a consequence, in the following, in order to carry out a full

comparison between all of the cited formulations, particular attention will

be focused only on the Ht component.

It has been observed that the behaviour reported in Fig.3 is repeated for

any value of the normalized frequency. In particular the Ht shape errors

increase from the node-based formulation ones up to the T\ edge element,

passing through the transverse and the TI.S edge element ones. As an ex-

ample Fig.4 shows the errorfigurefor v = 4.

Some differences arise by increasing the index step as can be observed by

comparing Fig.4 and 5. In the last case the core refractive index has been

changed to %*, = 2.0 and %<* = 3.0. The step values thus obtained are quite

similar to the index steps which occur, for instance, in integrated optics.

Transactions on Engineering Sciences vol 11, 1996 WIT Press, www.witpress.com, ISSN 1743-3533

While the node-based approach maintains almost the same values, the other

formulations slightly modify their behaviours. In particular the performance

of the transverse one are considerably degraded of almost and even more

than one order of magnitude in the two cases respectively. At the same

time the 7%.5 edge element errors increase up to the extent of overcoming

the TI ones. Therefore, for what concerns the Ht distribution, the relative

performance order is changed even if the same change does not occur for

the effective index. In fact an analysis of the propagation constant in these

conditions reveals a behaviour similar to that one already reported in Fig.l.

rtocto-based formulation

T,, odge formulation

T, d0 formulation

formulation

Figure 4: The Ht shape error versus the mesh point number. Fibre parame-

ters as in Fig.l; the fundamental mode HEu at v 4 has been considered.

performances of different approaches, strongly depend on the parameter

chosen to test the performances themselves. For this reason, in order to

define the reliability and the accuracy of any formulation, it is convenient

to accurately test not only the effective index, but also the distribution of

the evaluated field.

Finally it is important to note that the values of the shape errors can be

strongly influenced both by the mesh distribution and by the shape of the

triangles. In particular it has been observed that the edge element formu-

lations are the most sensitive to these factors. For this reason, in order to

carry out a reliable comparison between the cited formulations, this influ-

ence must be reduced as much as possible. In particular triangles too elon-

gated and with the vertex angles too small or too large must be avoided.

Defined the triangle aspect ratio [11] as the ratio of the length of the longest

to the shortest element side, this parameter must be controlled and can not

become too large. Consequently all of the meshes considered in the present

Transactions on Engineering Sciences vol 11, 1996 WIT Press, www.witpress.com, ISSN 1743-3533

nod-baed formulation

T,, dg formulabon

o T, edge formulation

transvm formulation

Figure 5 The HI shape error versus the mesh point number for rico 2.0

and = 3.0 respectively. Others fibre parameters as in Fig.l. The HE\\

mode at // = 4 has been considered.

4 Conclusion

different FEM formulations has been carried out through the usage of the

shape error figure. The so called transverse, Ti and TI.S edge element for-

mulations have been considered together with a new node-based approach

presented by the authors. Their performances, tested for a dielectric fibre

by varying the frequency and the index step, differ according to the pa-

rameter used for measuring the formulation precision. As a consequence

both effective index and field accuracy should be tested in order to define

the reliability and the accuracy of any formulation. The new approach pro-

posed by the authors directly solves for the propagation constant at a given

frequency, preserves the matrix sparsity and evaluates all of the unknown

magnetic field components. Results show its availability and usefulness in

waveguide analysis.

References

tion for the Analysis of Nonlinear Anisotropic Dielectric Waveguides",

IEEE Trans. Microwave Theory and Tech., MTT-43, pp. 887-892, Apr.

1995.

Transactions on Engineering Sciences vol 11, 1996 WIT Press, www.witpress.com, ISSN 1743-3533

optical waveguides", 3-rd International Conference on Mathematical

and Numerical aspects of wave propagation phenomena, INRIA-SIAM,

Mandelien, April 1995.

[3] M. Zoboli, P. Bassi, The finite element method for anisotropic opti-

cal waveguides, from "Anisotropic and Nonlinear Optical Waveguides",

edited by G.Stegeman and C.G.Someda, ELSEVIER 1992.

[4] Y. Lu, F.A. Fernandez, "An efficient finite element solution of inho-

mogeneous anisotropic and lossy dielectric waveguides", IEEE Trans.

Microwave Theory and Tech., MTT-41, pp.1215-1223, June/July 1993.

[5] J.F. Lee, D.K. Sun, Z.J. Cendes, "Full wave analysis of dielectric waveg-

uides using tangential vectorfiniteelements", IEEE Trans. Microwave

Theory and Tech., MTT-39, pp.1262-1271, Aug. 1991.

microwave and optical waveguides", IEEE Trans. Microwave Theory

and Tech., MTT-40, pp.371-377, Feb. 1992.

[7] B.M. Dillon, P.T.S. Liu, J.P. Webb, "Spurious modes in quadrilateral

and triangular edge elements", COMPEL, vol.13, supplement A, pp.

311-316, May 1994.

Based Finite Element Method", submitted to IEEE Trans. Microwave

Theory and Techniques.

waveguides solution byfiniteelements", IEEE Trans. Microwave The-

ory and Tech., MTT-32, pp.922-928, Aug. 1984.

solver for finite element solution of dielectric waveguides", Electron.

Lett, vol.27, n.20, Sep. 1991.

[11] A. Jay, Fern Modeling and Preprocessing from "Finite Element Hand-

book", edited by H. Kardestuncer and D.H. Norrie, McGraw-Hill, New

York, 1987.

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