Inside Track with Jiyoun Munn, Technical Product Manager of RF, COMSOL

Dec. 4, 2015
COMSOL's Jiyoun Munn discusses RF/microwave simulation and its role in the design process.
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Jiyoun Munn has published several papers and holds patents for antenna-interrogating systems. He is currently the Technical Product Manager of the RF Module at COMSOL. Munn is a member of the IEEE Antennas and Propagation Society, Microwave Theory and Techniques Society, and Electromagnetic Compatibility Society. He received his M.S.E.E. from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

CD: RF/microwave simulation plays a much larger role in the design process today than in the past. What are some of the specific requirements that you’ve received from customers in recent years?

JM: Over the past several years, our customers have demanded a more intuitive and easy-to-use, yet powerful user interface for multiphysics modeling. Specifically among our RF customers, we’ve seen an increase in the use of multiphysics simulation for studying metamaterials and integrated plasmonics (i.e., when researchers want to examine the use of metamaterials beyond the electromagnetic spectrum of microwaves and optics—to incorporate, for example, acoustics and fluid flow). 

Jiyoun Munn

Additionally, we need to support the experts who often have to serve the entire organization while covering a diverse range of simulation needs. To do this, we are bringing simulation to a larger group of people. The latest version of COMSOL Multiphysics and its Application Builder provides simulation experts with the tools needed to turn their detailed physics and mathematical models into easy-to-use simulation apps for use by everyone in their organization and beyond.

Using COMSOL Multiphysics, for example, microwave and RF designers can couple electromagnetic (EM) simulations with heat transfer, structural mechanics, fluid flow formulations, and other physical phenomena, allowing them to solve systems of equations representing coupled physics effects as they would occur in nature. As a result, they are able to accurately investigate use cases.

CD: What pitfalls can users avoid by utilizing electromagnetic (EM) simulation software?

JM: If, for example, you are building an Internet of Things (IoT) device, you’ll need to study the interference between each device to design it in a way that allows for efficient communication under different circumstances. Of course, the integration of communication devices in real life may not be described by one ideal environmental condition. You will need multiphysics simulation to observe the effects that cannot be directly measured in the lab or using a single physics simulation tool. One advantage of multiphysics is the opportunity to go beyond current measurement possibilities with a virtual prototype. Another benefit is the ability to explore several configurations and easily compare the different performances. Simulation provides you with the tools to clearly communicate your ideas using the visualization of simulation results and reporting on all figures of merit involved. Multiphysics simulation allows you to examine unexpected behaviors before moving forward with your prototype.

CD: How will 5G and the Internet of Things (IoT) impact simulation requirements?

JM: Current finite-element-analysis (FEA) tools will need substantially more computational power. To overcome this challenge, a full simulation model may have to be combined with state-of-the-art asymptotic methods.

In a simulation app called “Slot-Coupled Microstrip Patch Antenna Array Synthesizer,” we built a very accurate model of a single antenna. We then used the Method Editor in the Application Builder to write a code to represent its asymptotic solution in order to combine the two. We wanted to show how to efficiently evaluate many antenna components by running a 90-second analysis that provides very accurate results, rather than running the analysis for about two days, which is what would happen if a different approach was used.

Designers working on prototypes for 5G can copy and paste the code in the Method Editor used in the app to evaluate these concepts for their own designs. They can start from our example and build a full-fledged simulation app that suits their needs.

CD: What are some of the emerging areas that stand to benefit from modeling and simulation software?

JM: The real world cannot be described by a single physics. Yet emerging RF technologies are usually designed by examining a single physics first. There’s a need to extend this approach with other physics, such as structural mechanics, heat transfer, fluid flow, plasma, acoustics, and so on. This will allow designers to simulate with high fidelity and deliver products that will behave as expected when used in real-life situations.

CD: What are some of the simulation capabilities that you think can be realized in the future?

JM: Developing computer software for physics modeling and simulation is about implementing the laws of nature that have been discovered by the greatest scientists over the last several hundred years. Those laws are the foundations for useful and reliable software programs to be used by leading high-tech companies and individuals that produce advanced devices and processes. Because R&D and production costs are high and failure can be catastrophic, product requirements and expectations are extremely high. We also believe that simulation should be accessible to a larger group of people, by providing experts with the tools to easily share their knowledge. For this reason, we’ve added the Application Builder to COMSOL Multiphysics for creating simulation apps and introduced COMSOL Server to distribute them via a COMSOL Client or browser.

The future is happening now, so to speak, with the adoption of simulation apps and engineers in product development and manufacturing. Even consumers will benefit greatly from this.

CD: How has COMSOL responded to the needs of colleges and universities that are utilizing simulation software more heavily than in the past?

JM: Many technical colleges and universities around the globe use COMSOL software. COMSOL Multiphysics is a very flexible tool that caters to an array of users within academia as well as industry—from mathematicians and physicists who want to implement their own equations to those who benefit from our predefined physics interfaces. Additionally, the release of the Application Builder has introduced students at the undergraduate level to simulation earlier in their curricula. Professors now have the tools available to teach the fundamentals of physics and engineering in an interactive environment through the use of simulation apps.

COMSOL further supports the needs of colleges and universities with a generous licensing offering, such as a Class Kit License that allows as many as 30 students to simultaneously use the software for a class over a school network. Similarly, as instructors build simulation apps to support their course lectures, an Academic Server License will allow up to 300 concurrent users to run those simulation apps.        

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