16 April 2012

UGhent and Imec release IPKISS open-source software platform to integrated photonics design community

Ghent University (UGent) and nanoelectronics research center Imec of Leuven, Belgium have announced the launch of its IPKISS software framework as an open-source software platform, available now free of charge to the wider integrated photonics design community.

The software platform is made available by means of a free-of-charge GPLv2-licensed code base, a custom developer license, and a custom commercial license, providing access to what is claimed to be a powerful and flexible software platform.

IPKISS was originally conceived in 2002 by UGent’s Photonic Research Group and imec as a programmable generator of Mask Layouts (GDSII) written in Python, but has since then evolved significantly. Its main use is currently as a generic and modular software framework for the parametric design of photonic components and complex photonic integrated circuits (PICs). In IPKISS, a designer can quickly define photonic components, directly simulate them in electromagnetic solvers, and integrate them in a circuit on a photomask for fabrication. For this, IPKISS integrates easily with popular third-party simulators.

While currently most applicable to photonics, IPKISS is conceived as a generic and flexible framework, and can be customized for use (and is already used) in many other domains related to micro- and nano-electronics (microfluidics, plasmonics, MEMS, etc).

IPKISS is based on scripting in Python, making it easy to learn and flexible in use, it is claimed. The user specifies in an analytical manner how a component is represented in terms of parameters. Internally, the component knows how to generate its layout, its input/output connections with other components, its internal circuit representations, etc. This ensures a separation between the formal specification of a component or circuit and different representations that can be derived (e.g. a mask layout in GDSII, a 2D or 3Dmodel, a circuit model).

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 made available through ePIXfab (a European foundry service for silicon photonics prototyping) and through Imec directly for customized photonic IC development.

Imec says that the IPKISS design approach is powerful and flexible as well as 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 (GUI). Users of IPKISS will have access to a powerful and flexible software platform that can catalyze their research with a relatively small incremental effort, it is claimed.

The IPKISS framework is made available under different open-source licenses, as follows:

  • Community — A GPLv2-licensed code base of IPKISS will allow access to the framework free of cost. The objective of this license scheme is to stimulate people in developing the IPKISS framework, so a thriving community can evolve around the framework.
  • Developer — A custom license (at a modest annual fee) that allows the licensee to develop plug-ins and add-ons for distribution.
  • Custom commercial — A license targeted at software developers wishing to incorporate IPKISS into a product and therefore bundle a (modified) version of the code base with their own additions. This license and its cost will be tailored to each individual case.

The platform is being launched on Tuesday 17 April (1:30pm) at SPIE Photonics Europe 2012 — Exhibitor Product Demonstrations. It is also on display at the SPIE Photonics Europe 2012 Innovation Village and European Network space 24 (ePIXfab-IPKISS booth).

Tags: Photonics PICs

Visit: www.ipkiss.org

Visit: http://photonics.intec.ugent.be

Visit: www.imec.be

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