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Open Source Integrated Photonics Software Launched

GHENT, Belgium, April 16, 2012 — Ghent University and nanoelectronics research center imec of Leuven have launched IPKISS, an open source software platform for designing photonic components and complex photonic integrated circuits, they announced.

IPKISS is a generic and modular software framework for the parametric design of photonic integrated components and circuits. The software is available by means of a free GPLv2-licensed code base and custom developer and commercial licenses. With this launch, the two organizations say they are providing the integrated photonics design community access to a powerful, flexible software platform.

The software was conceived in 2002 by the university’s Photonic Research Group and imec as a programmable generator of mask layouts (GDSII) written in Python, but it has evolved significantly since its introduction.

In IPKISS, designers can quickly define photonic components, directly simulate them in electromagnetic solvers, and integrate them into a circuit on a photomask for fabrication. It integrates easily with third-party simulators and can be customized for other domains related to micro- and nanoelectronics, such as microfluidics, plasmonics and microelectromechanical systems.

Internally, the component knows how to generate its layout, its input and output connections with other components, its internal circuit representations, and so on. This ensures a separation between the formal specification of a component or circuit and different representations that can be derived.

Components can be defined to accept outside technology information provided by the fab, effectively allowing a design that could be fabricated in different locations. Design kits for imec’s silicon photonics technologies are available through ePIXfab, a European foundry service for silicon photonics prototyping, and through imec directly.

The developers say that the IPKISS design approach is very accurate, resulting in a productive design cycle with little margin for copy-and-paste errors. This contrasts with a design workflow that is static and cannot be influenced by the user, or where the user is limited to the functionality provided in a graphical user interface.

The IPKISS framework is available under three different open source licenses.

For the community, a GPLv2-licensed code base will allow access to the framework at no charge. The objective of this license scheme is to encourage people to develop the IPKISS framework, so a thriving community can evolve around it.

For the developer, a custom license with an annual fee allows the licensee to develop plug-ins and add-ons for distribution.

There is also a custom commercial license, which is targeted to software developers who wish to incorporate IPKISS into a product and bundle a modified version of the code base with their own additions. This license and its cost would be tailored to each individual case.

The platform will be launched April 17 at SPIE Photonics Europe 2012 during the exhibitor product demonstrations.

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