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Numerical simulations have become an essential design tool in the field of photonics, especially for nanophotonics. In particular, 3D finite-difference-time-domain (FDTD) simulations are popular for their powerful design capabilities. Increasingly, researchers are developing or using inverse design tools to improve device footprints and performance. These tools often make use of 3D FDTD simulations and the adjoint optimization method. We implement a commercial inverse design tool with these features for several plasmonic devices that push the boundaries of the tool. We design a logic gate with complex design requirements as well as a y-splitter and waveguide crossing. With minimal code changes, we implement a design that incorporates phase-encoded inputs in a dielectric-loaded surface plasmon polariton waveguide. The complexity of the requirements in conjunction with limitations in the inverse design tool force us to make concessions regarding the density of encoding and to use on–off keying to encode the outputs. We compare the performance of the inverse-designed devices to conventionally designed devices with the same operational behavior. Finally, we discuss the limitations of the inverse design tools for realizing complex device designs and comment on what is possible at present and where improvements can be made.


This article was originally published in Journal of Nanophotonics, volume 17, issue 1, in 2023.


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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.