An interface-enriched generalized finite element method for the analysis and topology optimization of 2-D electromagnetic problems

Steven van Bergen, Richard A. Norte, Alejandro M. Aragón*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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The computational analysis of nanophotonic devices is usually carried out via the standard finite element method (FEM). However, FEM requires meshes that are fitted to the devices’ boundaries, so making changes to the geometry (and thus the mesh) results in an inefficient process at best. Such an approach is therefore at odds when conducting design, which requires the analysis of multiple device geometries until reaching a satisfactory solution. Computational design tools such as topology optimization are often used, but the use of density-based representations of geometry inevitably leads to other issues—e.g., pixelized fuzzy boundaries with “gray material” (that does not correspond to dielectric nor vacuum) have an adverse effect on the devices’ interaction with electromagnetic waves. In this paper we propose an interface-enriched generalized finite element method (IGFEM) for the analysis of two-dimensional electromagnetic scattering and eigenvalue problems. IGFEM enables the use of finite element meshes that are completely decoupled from the problem's geometry. The analysis procedure is further coupled to a level set description of topology, resulting in a versatile enriched approach to topology optimization; this level set-based interface-enriched topology optimization procedure is devoid of the issues mentioned above regarding density-based methods, and yields crisp “black-and-white” designs that are devoid of jagged fuzzy edges. We first demonstrate that the analysis procedure achieves the same convergence rate as that of standard FEM using geometry-fitted meshes. We then compare the convergence properties of IGFEM with Nitsche's method on a problem containing an embedded straight interface. Finally, we conduct topology optimization for designing both a 2-D metalens and a 2-D reflector, maximizing their ability to focus light onto a target point.

Original languageEnglish
Article number116748
Number of pages22
JournalComputer Methods in Applied Mechanics and Engineering
Publication statusPublished - 2024


  • Electromagnetics
  • Enriched finite element analysis
  • Interface-enriched generalized finite element method (IGFEM)
  • Level set method
  • Topology optimization


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