Non-utopian optical properties computed of a tomographically reconstructed real photonic band gap crystal

Lars J. Corbijn van Willenswaard, Stef Smeets, Nicolas Renaud, Matthias Schlottbom, Jaap J.W. van der Vegt, Willem L. Vos

Research output: Working paperPreprintAcademic

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State-of-the-art computational methods combined with common idealized structural models provide an incomplete understanding of experiments on real nanostructures, since manufacturing introduces unavoidable deviations from the design. We propose to close this knowledge gap by using the real structure of a manufactured crystal as input in computations to obtain a realistic comparison with observations on the same nanostructure. We demonstrate this approach on the structure of a real silicon inverse woodpile photonic bandgap crystal, obtained by previous synchrotron X-ray imaging. A 2D part of the dataset is selected and processed into a computational mesh suitable for a Discontinuous Galerkin Finite Element Method (DGFEM) to compute optical transmission spectra that are compared to those of a utopian crystal, i.e., a hypothetical model crystal with the same filling fraction where all pores are identical and circular. The nanopore shapes in the real crystal differ in a complex way from utopian pores, leading to a complex transmission spectrum with significant frequency speckle in and beyond the gap. The utopian model provides only a limited understanding of the spectrum: while it accurately predicts low frequency finite-size fringes and the lower band edge, the upper band edge is off, it completely misses the presence of speckle, the domination of speckle above the gap, and possible Anderson localized states in the gap. Moreover, unlike experiments where only external probes are available, numerical methods allow to study all fields everywhere. While the pore shapes hardly affect the fields at low frequency, major differences occur at high frequency such as localized fields deep inside the real crystal. In summary, using only external measurements and utopian models may give an erroneous picture of the fields and the LDOS inside a real crystal, which is remedied by our new approach.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 14 Feb 2024


  • physics.optics


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