Recently [Opt. Lett. 25, 1092 (2000)], two of the present authors proposed extending the domain of applicability of grating theories to aperiodic structures, especially the diffraction structures that are encountered in integrated optics. This extension was achieved by introduction of virtual periodicity and incorporation of artificial absorbers at the boundaries of the elementary cells of periodic structures. Refinements and extensions of that previous research are presented. Included is a thorough discussion of the effect of the absorber quality on the accuracy of the computational results, with highly accurate computational results being achieved with perfectly matched layer absorbers. The extensions are concerned with the diversity of diffraction waveguide problems to which the method is applied. These problems include two-dimensional classical problems such as those involving Bragg mirrors and grating couplers that may be difficult to model because of the length of the components and three-dimensional problems such as those involving integrated diffraction gratings, photonic crystal waveguides, and waveguide airbridge microcavities. Rigorous coupled-wave analysis (also called the Fourier modal method) is used to support the analysis, but we believe that the approach is applicable to other grating theories. The method is tested both against available numerical data obtained with finite-difference techniques and against experimental data. Excellent agreement is obtained. A comparison in terms of convergence speed with the finite-difference modal method that is widely used in waveguide theory confirms the relevancy of the approach. Consequently, a simple, efficient, and stable method that may also be applied to waveguide and grating diffraction problems is proposed.
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