EUROPRACTICE Logo PhoeniX Search
Join the Europractice Mailing List

Home > Software > PhoeniX

Quick links:

OptoDesigner 5 MaskEngineer Design Kits
FlowDesigner Aspic Fabrication Runs
How to Order

News.   Capture the Light
Cadence, Lumerical and PhoeniX Software have developed an integrated electronic / photonic design automation environment for photonic ICs. The environment enables schematic or layout driven design flows for photonic end electronic circuits, photonic component parameter extraction and model generation, photonic circuit simulation and photonic mask layout.

Please click here for the Powerpoint slides.

Please click here for the movie presentation with voiceover as given at DAC 2017 by Twan Korthorst, CEO PhoeniX Software.

News.   PhoeniX OptoDesigner 5.1 now available
The OptoDesigner 5.1 release provides a significant performance boost for design synthesis and compilation (up to two orders of magnitude faster) and includes new functionality to improve photonic integrated circuit (PIC) designer productivity. Additionally, the 5.1 release includes several new and improved interfaces to software tools from Cadence Design Systems, Mentor Graphics, Synopsys and Lumerical.

Better Performance. Version 5.1 is producing dramatic reductions in runtimes for netlist creation, design rule checking and GDS generation. In some larger designs, producing improvements of up to two orders of magnitude faster compilation times. Really large designs that were previously taking hours to compile now compile in just a few minutes.

Added Functionality. There have been several functional additions to 5.1 to aid designer productivity. A more automated and comprehensive set of waveguide routing algorithms will help designers connect up their photonic circuits. The Advanced Connectors and Routing module now includes a Manhattan style routing feature as well as a semi-automated relative way-point router that lets designers loosely specify general waveguide paths and then allows the tool to complete the actual geometries. The new capabilities also include automatic photonic-crossing insertion.

Improved Usability. PhoeniX have added many new wizards and templates to automate tasks for designers to build on top of the available proven libraries so designers can move to higher levels of abstraction and be more creative and efficient. This includes a simplified definition for defining hierarchical building blocks and automating how port administration and bounding box generation are handled.

New 3rd Party Interfaces. Synopsys has strengthened and improved their interfaces with OptoDesigner 5.1 through the PDAFlow API standard. New to the 5.1 is the support for more automated waveguide routing in the Mentor Pyxis environment using PDA-Link with OptoDesigner in server mode and a complete front-to-back electronic-photonic design flow with Cadence Design Systems and Lumerical Solutions.

Evaluation Licenses

PhoeniX are offering Europractice members a free 30-day evaluation license for their FlowDesigner, MaskEngineer, OptoDesigner 5 and Aspic products. If you wish to take advantage of this offer, please contact the Microelectronics Support Centre at RAL.


PhoeniX Software Design Solutions for Micro and Nano Technologies

PhoeniX Software delivers a wide range of dedicated software tools to support the professional micro and nano technology designers and researchers by providing a flexible and integrated environment focused on manufacturable designs.

The product portfolio contains of software tools for full custom mask layout, schematic editing, pick and place, (auto-)routing, verification, process flow visualization and library development for MEMS, microfluidics, integrated optics, printed electronics and other micro and nano technologies. For the photonic integration domain circuit simulations, including tolerance analysis and yield optimization, and physical simulators for mode-solving and propagation simulations are offered. Tools are PDAFlow compliant to integrate seamlessly with Design Kits from various foundries in silicon photonics (SOI), TriPleX and IndiumPhosphide (InP) based photonic integration.

OptoDesigner 5

OptoDesigner 5 brings together, in one extremely powerful and versatile combination, all the features previously available within FieldDesigner, MaskEngineer, OptoDesigner and FlowDesigner. OptoDesigner 5 runs on Windows and Linux platforms in native 64-bits and is also available as 32-bits version. Where possible OptoDesigner 5 modules take advantage of multi-core CPU's to speed up your work.

OptoDesigner 5 provides a flexible and integrated tool-set that offers best-in-class control without compromising creativity. It covers the complete design flow, from integrated photonics simulations, process visualization to mask layout. Moreover, OptoDesigner 5 incorporates Process Design Kit (PDK) plugin's, providing access to leading photonic integration platforms (silicon photonics, InP and TriPleX) and foundries offering designers the opportunity of exploring the full technology and market potential of their product ideas.

OptoDesigner 5 comprises: ●   Chip and Mask Layout ●   Process Flow Visualization
  ●   Photonic Mode Simulations ●   Photonic Propagation Simulations

Chip and Mask layout
  The Chip and Mask Layout functionality (also available as stand alone tool: MaskEngineer) features fully parametric capabilities to describe layouts and functional relations between components. Further it has an extensive set of standard libraries with photonic elements and building blocks. In addition designers can define their own element libraries. The built-in Design Rule Checker ensures that designs are compliant with external foundry design rules and support the designer to create manufacturable designs.
Process Flow Visualization
  Process Flow Visualization is a powerful component in the OptoDesigner 5 suite retaining an overview of the complete process flow. It offers comprehensive functionality to analyze the first order flow based on geometrical simulation, enabling advanced features like tolerance analyses and yield optimization. Processes are visualized based on libraries of materials and their responses to individual process steps. This functionality is also available as stand alone tool: FlowDesigner.
Photonic Mode Simulations
  Optical modes are the basic ingredient of integrated optics design steps, varying from being a starting point needed in propagation analysis to waveguide geometry optimization. Fully integrated within the Photonic Mode Simulations module are Real & Complex Mode Solutions, Bend Mode Simulation and Thermo-Optic, Electro-Optic and Stress-Optic simulations. It is driven by fast and reliable Full Vectorial Film Mode Matching and Finite Difference technologies which make it unique in the industry. It delivers powerful post-processing of results and a considerable reduction in data analysis time. This module provides mode solving for 1D and 2D optical waveguides, overlap, confinement and other post-processing of fields as well as bent waveguide modelling. The available 3D Coupled Mode Theory based simulations are a fast and accurate alternative to 3D FDTD simulations of ring resonators and racetracks.
  BPM Propagation
BPM Propagation
Photonic Propagation Simulations
  The Photonic Propagation Simulations module offers light propagation simulation for integrated photonics devices using a number of propagation algorithms such as the Beam Propagation Method (BPM), Eigenmode Expansion or Bi-directional Eigenmode Propagation (EME / BEP) for propagation simulations of structures with back- reflections and Finite Difference Time Domain (FDTD), which is most suitable for smaller structures which then can be analyzed in more detail.

In addition, the Zone Technology integrates optical design with parametric chip and mask layout allowing the designer to simulate parts of a complete design in one simulation run, rather than simulating on an adapted design or simulating in multiple runs. The Flexible Algorithm Selection Technology (FAST) is used to combine simulation algorithms in one run.

OptoDesigner 5 can be purchased as "OptoDesigner 5 Basic Package" or "OptoDesigner 5 Full Package". The technical brochures below, in Adobe Acrobat format, provides further information on the OptoDesigner 5 products.
OptoDesigner 5 Datasheet OptoDesigner 5 Products

Note.   Aspic is a software package for the analysis and design of optical components and circuits. It can be used for fast and accurate analysis, modelling and design of integrated and hybrid optical passive circuits. Aspic is complimentary to PhoeniX OptoDesigner 5 as it is the first step in the process of creating an integrated optical circuit design. Aspic is not available through Europractice, but can be purchased from Filarete srl or from PhoeniX Software


The design of many 3D structures is simplified by representing it as a 2D structure (side-view or cross section) to which the different process steps are applied. During these stages many pictures are being drawn by hand, which is a cumbersome and error-prone process.

This solution provides the designer with a software tool capable of doing these steps automatically and allows her/him to vary parameters to obtain the required result.

Main features:
  * Assumption Replacement - In many cases assumptions are made for the real-life stages of the process flow. This is mainly due to the hand-drawn pictures, it is simply not feasible to draw these pictures without those assumptions. Using FlowDesigner these assumptions are removed and a full process flowcan be documented complete with process images (at any stage of the process flow). All this information can be edited or stored at the touch of a button. FlowDesigner
FlowDesigner cross-section
  * Tolerance Analysis - Vary key parameters (etching rates / deposition rates / selectivity) and see the effect on your structure.
  * Validation - A fast validation of a mask layout can show important problems like under-etching due to the proximity of features on your mask design.

The technical brochure below, in Adobe Acrobat format, provides further information on the FlowDesigner product.
FlowDesigner Datasheet

Note.   FlowDesigner is also available as the "Process Flow Visualization" module of OptoDesigner 5.


Both for pick, place and routing as well as for custom lay-out activities, MaskEngineer is an advanced solution for micro and nano technologies. For integrated photonics it is seamlessly integrated with domain specific simulations as mode-solvers and propagation simulators. Further it is capable of translating a photonic circuit design directly into a mask lay-out.

MaskEngineer provides the professional designer with an object oriented design environment for mask lay-out. Parametric lay-out has, as a basic concept, that lay-out and function of a component are related: changing the lay-out will change the functional parameters of a component and vice versa. This big step forward from simple drawing saves already a lot of time - but MaskEngineer goes one step further: object oriented mask layout allows for full connectivity between the different components in the chip or mask lay-out.

Describing these relations in a mathematical way allows to reduce design time considerably by being able to re-use designs much easier. During prototype stages variations in the design can be made trivially, either due to updated measurements, changes in technology or just more advanced modelling taking into account more physical effects.

MaskEngineer provides an extensive domain specific script language, focusing on the lay-out of a whole variety of micro and nano components. It is widely used in the domain of photonic integration in technologies like: silicon photonics, compound semiconductors, InP photonic integrated circuits and TriPleX.

Main features:
  * Full compatibility with foundry specific design kits (PDKs) helping you to kick-start in many technologies.
  * Extensive mathematical functions and element libraries and advanced expression capability to describe their relations.
  * Hierarchy, simplifying re-use of earlier designs. MaskEngineer
Parameterised optical element
  * Iterations / conditional parts.
  * Connectivity and coordinate transform support.
  * C-like text based input format, with import and export to formats like GDSII and CIF.
  * Boolean operations.
  * Extensive libraries for:   Integrated Photonics,   Micro-fluidics,   Micro-mechanics / MEMS.
  * Design Rule Checker. DRC saves both time and effort by helping to catch design errors before manufacturing
  * Advanced Autorouting capabilities.
  * Mask Preparation and Assembly routines.

The technical brochure below, in Adobe Acrobat format, provides further information on the MaskEngineer product.
MaskEngineer Datasheet

Note.   MaskEngineer is also available as the "Chip and Mask Layout" module of OptoDesigner 5.



Aspic is an advanced simulator for Photonic Integrated Circuits, including an integrated link to OptoDesigner 5 and compatible with Process Design Kits (PDKs).

In Aspic, a circuits' assembly relies on a collection of building blocks that do not require the user to provide any description at physical level. Its model-based approach allows a high abstraction level, focusing on circuit functionality and performance. This permits the user to conceive, design and analyse arbitrary large circuits with few clicks and to easily translate them in mask layouts.

Main features: MaskEngineer
Coarse Wavelength Division Multiplexer
  * Aspic is a package for the analysis and design of integrated and hybrid optical circuits without restrictions in dimensions and complexity. Its model-based approach does not need descriptions at physical level, permitting to concentrate on the circuit functionality.
  * Aspic is complementary to classical electromagnetic simulators and is many orders of magnitude faster and less memory consuming.
  * Aspic is a powerful environment that permits to analyze complete optical circuits, calculates the spectral behavior, synthesize devices, realize virtual experiments, carry out "what if" and "worst case" analysis.
  * Aspic can be used for "educational", "proof of concept", "research" and "virtual prototyping" purposes and will be your precious, invaluable and powerful tool for development of optical devices and Aspic.
  * Aspic simulations can also run inside MATLAB and Python. Designers can leverage on the scripting capabilities in order to automate and control the execution on large number of simulations and embed the Aspic engine in their own functions. Moreover, Aspic easily exports and imports simulation results and data from/to MATLAB.

The flyer below, in Adobe Acrobat format, provides further information on the Aspic product.
Aspic Flyer

Design Kits for foundry access

PhoeniX Software is closely collaborating with leading foundries in integrated photonics, microfluidics and printed electronics in order to lower the access barriers of these application areas of micro and nano technology. For integrated photonics, Design Kits are available for the three major photonic integration platforms: silicon photonics, TriPleX and IndiumPhosphide.

Available Process Design Kits (PDKs)
InP photonics (COBRA)   Within research projects Memphis, EuroPIC and Paradigm design kits and libraries have been developed for foundry access to the InP photonics platform.   InP photonics (FhG-HHI, Paradigm)   This InP photonics Design Kit contains the building blocks for the Multi Project Wafer runs offered by the Heinrich Hertz Institute.
InP photonics (Oclaro, Paradigm)   Within project Paradigm a design kit has been developed for foundry access to InP photonics Multi Project Wafer services at Oclaro (Caswell, UK).   Silicon photonics (CEA-Leti: full platform)   This silicon photonics design kit contains the settings, DRC and building blocks for the full platform Multi Project Wafer runs offered by CEA-Leti.
Silicon photonics (CEA-Leti: passives)   The silicon photonics design kit contains the building blocks for the Multi Project Wafer runs offered by CEA-Leti.   Silicon photonics (IHP)   This silicon photonics design kit contains the building blocks for the Multi Project Wafer runs offered by IHP under the umbrella of ePIXfab.
Silicon photonics (imec)   The silicon photonics design kit contains the building blocks for the Multi Project Wafer runs offered by imec for both their passive as well as active (ISIPP25G) platform.   Silicon photonics (OpSIS-IME)   The silicon photonics design kit contains the building blocks for the Multi Project Wafer runs offered by OpSIS fabricated at the IME facilities.
Silicon photonics (VTT)   This silicon photonics design kit contains the building blocks for the Multi Project Wafer runs offered by VTT under the umbrella of ePIXfab.   TriPleX (LioniX)   The TriPleX Design Kit contains the building blocks for the Multi Project Wafer runs offered by LioniX.

More details at:

Fabrication Runs

Multi Project Wafer runs are ogranised by Europractice, ePIXfab, IHP, VTT, OpSIS, Paradim, JePPIX and LioniX for a variety of photonics technologies. This allows researchers / engineers access to advanced fabrication facilities for Photonic Integrated Circuits at affordable cost.

Regular training sessions are organised by the brokering organisations. PhoeniX Software participates in most of these training sessions to introduce their design environment and foundry specific Design Kits for the various technologies.

More details at:

How to Order

Orders are placed with the vendor on a single order, once per month. To be included in the current month's order, all documents including original ink-signed paper End User Agreements (if applicable) must be received by the Microelectronics Support Centre no later than the 25th day of the month.

Detailed instructions on how to place an order are given in our Order Procedures.




PLEASE ENSURE that you read the End User Agreement Notes before downloading the End User Agreements

STFC Home page Europractice membership and design tools access is managed by STFC at the Microelectronics Support Centre, Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, UK. You can contact the Microelectronics Support Centre by email:

Last modified: October 6, 2017