Photonic Open Source Platform For MEMS As Well
Ghent University and imec are
launching IPKISS, an open source software platform. IPKISS is a generic and modular
software framework for the parametric design of photonic integrated components
and circuits. The software platform is made available by means of a
GPLv2-licensed code base (free of charge), a custom developer license and a custom
commercial license. With this launch, Ghent University and imec say they are
providing the integrated photonics design community access to a powerful and
flexible software platform.
IPKISS was originally conceived in
2002 by the Photonic Research Group of Ghent University and imec as a
programmable generator of Mask Layouts (GDSII) written in Python, but has since
then evolved significantly.
While currently most applicable to photonics, IPKISS is conceived as a generic and flexible framework. IPKISS can be customised for use (and is already used) in many other domains related to micro- and nano-electronics such as microfluidics, plasmonics and MEMS.
Its main use is currently the design
of photonic components and complex photonic integrated circuits. In IPKISS, a
designer can quickly define photonic components, directly simulate them in
electromagnetic solvers and integrate them into a circuit on a photomask for
fabrication. For this, IPKISS integrates easily with popular third-party
simulators. As the scripting is based in Python,
imec and Ghent University say IPKISS is easy to learn and extremely flexible.
The user can specify parameters in how a component is represented.
Internally, the component knows how
to generate its layout, its input/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. For example, a mask layout in GDSII, a 2D
or 3Dmodel or 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
customised photonic IC development.
The developers say the IPKISS design
approach is powerful and flexible, while at the same time very accurate,
resulting in a productive design cycle with little margin for copy-and-paste
errors. This contrasts with a design workflow which is static and cannot be
influenced by the user, or where the user is limited to the functionality
provided in a graphical user interface. Users of IPKISS will have access to a
powerful and flexible software platform that can catalyze their research with a
relatively small incremental effort.
The IPKISS framework is available
under different open source licenses. For the community, a GPLv2-licensed
code base of IPKISS will allow access to the framework for free. The objective
of this license scheme is to encourage people into developing the IPKISS
framework, so a thriving community can evolve around the framework.
For the developer, a custom license
with an annual fee allows the licensee to develop plug-ins and add-ons for
There is also a custom commercial
license which is targeted as 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.