National Nanotechnology Infrastructure Network

National Nanotechnology Infrastructure Network

Serving Nanoscale Science, Engineering & Technology

MIT Photonics Bands (MPB) at NNIN

MIT Photonic Bands (MPB)



MIT Photonic Bands allows users to calculate the band structure and electromagnetic modes of periodic structures such as photonic crystals and wave guides. Since this code has both serial and parallel versions, it is ideally suited for cluster based calculations.



Photonic crystals are periodic systems made up two or more materials with different indices of refraction. A periodic collection of dielectric rods in air, for example, forms a photonic crystal which prevents certain frequencies of light from transmitted through the system. Just as the periodic lattice of atoms in a crystal leads to bands and band gaps for electrons, periodic structures on the order of a photon wavelength lead to an optical band structure for light transmission. This ability to dictate the transmission of light through a material provides a powerful tool for optoelectronics. Photonic crystals hold promise for optically-based switches, laser resonant cavities, and novel lenses.


The MIT Photonic Bands package can find eigenstates and optical band structures in one, two, and three dimensional photonic structures. In addition, the code has the ability to find resonant modes or bands near a given frequency. Many techniques rely on a sequential search for resonant modes starting with the lowest frequency states. For high frequency states, the large number of bands required can lead to very long calculation times. Photonic Bands' ability to focus on a particular range of frequency space eliminates this problem.



Steven G. Johnson and J. D. Joannopoulus (MIT)


Getting Started:


Program Webpage:


MPB Manual (Online Version) or (PDF)


MPB Tutorial

(Developed by Steven G. Johnson)
Calculating your first photonic band structure

See Steve Johnson discuss Frequency Domain and Finite-Difference Time Domain Approaches for Nanophotonics during the 2006 CNF Fall Workshop [Video on CNF MediaSite]


Relevant Research Articles and Webpages:

  • Eli Yablonovitch's Optoelectronics Group, Yablonovitch is one of the pioneers in the field. The page also has a link to a Scientific American article describing photonic crystals and the development of the field.
  • Johnson, S. G, and Joannopoulos, J. D., "Block-iterative frequency-domain methods for Maxwell's equations in a planewave basis", Optics Express, 8, 173 (2001).
  • Johnson, S. G. "Photonic Crystals: Periodic Surprises in Electromagnetism", course webpage with a number of presentations discussing the theory, modeling, and fabrication of photonic crystals.


Questions, Comments...

Please contact:

Derek Stewart

stewart (at)

Cornell Nanoscale Facility