Maxwell's vector field equations and their numerical solution represent significant challenges for physical domains with complex geometries. There are several limitations in the presently prevalent approaches to the calculation of field distributions in physical domains, in particular, with the vector finite elements. In order to quantify and resolve issues, we consider the modeling of the field equations for the prototypical examples of waveguides. We employ the finite element method with a new set of Hermite interpolation polynomials derived recently by us using group theoretic considerations. We show that (i) the approach presented here yields better accuracy by several orders of magnitude, with a smoother representation of fields than the vector finite elements for waveguide calculations. (ii) This method does not generate any spurious solutions that plague Lagrange finite elements, even though the 𝒞1-continuous Hermite polynomials are also scalar in nature. (iii) We present solutions for propagating modes in inhomogeneous waveguides satisfying dispersion relations that can be derived directly, and investigate their behavior as the ratio of dielectric constants is varied both theoretically and numerically. Additional comparisons and advantages of the proposed method are detailed in this article. The Hermite interpolation polynomials are shown to provide a robust, accurate, and efficient means of solving Maxwell's equations in a variety of media, potentially offering a computationally inexpensive means of designing devices for optoelectronics and plasmonics of increasing complexity.
Boucher, C. R., Li, Z., Ahheng, C. I., Albrecht, J. D., & Ram-Mohan, L. R. (2016). Hermite finite elements for high accuracy electromagnetic field calculations: A case study of homogeneous and inhomogeneous waveguides. Journal of Applied Physics, 119(14). https://doi.org/10.1063/1.4945823
*denotes a WPI undergraduate student author