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Numerical simulations have become a cornerstone technology in the development of nanophotonic devices. Specifically, 3D finite-difference time domain (FDTD) simulations are widely used due to their flexibility and powerful design capabilities. More recently, FDTD simulations in conjunction with a design methodology called inverse design has become a popular way to optimize device topology, reducing a device’s footprint and increasing performance. We implement a commercial inverse design tool to generate complex grating couplers and explore a variety of grating coupler design methodologies. We compare the conventionally designed grating couplers to those generated by the inverse design tool. Finally, we discuss the limitations of the inverse design tool and how different design strategies for grating couplers affect inverse design performance, in terms of both computational cost and performance of the resulting device.


This is a pre-copy-editing, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in Journal of the Optical Society of America B, volume 41, issue 2, in 2024 following peer review. This article may not exactly replicate the final published version. The definitive publisher-authenticated version is available online at


Optica Publishing Group

Available for download on Friday, November 29, 2024