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Concept# Finite-difference time-domain method

Summary

'Finite-difference time-domain' (FDTD) or Yee's method (named after the Chinese American applied mathematician Kane S. Yee, born 1934) is a numerical analysis technique used for modeling computational electrodynamics (finding approximate solutions to the associated system of differential equations). Since it is a time-domain method, FDTD solutions can cover a wide frequency range with a single simulation run, and treat nonlinear material properties in a natural way.
The FDTD method belongs in the general class of grid-based differential numerical modeling methods (finite difference methods). The time-dependent Maxwell's equations (in partial differential form) are discretized using central-difference approximations to the space and time partial derivatives. The resulting finite-difference equations are solved in either software or hardware in a leapfrog manner: the electric field vector components in a volume of space are solved at a given instant in time; then the magnetic field vector components in the same spatial volume are solved at the next instant in time; and the process is repeated over and over again until the desired transient or steady-state electromagnetic field behavior is fully evolved.
Finite difference schemes for time-dependent partial differential equations (PDEs) have been employed for many years in computational fluid dynamics problems, including the idea of using centered finite difference operators on staggered grids in space and time to achieve second-order accuracy.
The novelty of Kane Yee's FDTD scheme, presented in his seminal 1966 paper, was to apply centered finite difference operators on staggered grids in space and time for each electric and magnetic vector field component in Maxwell's curl equations.
The descriptor "Finite-difference time-domain" and its corresponding "FDTD" acronym were originated by Allen Taflove in 1980.
Since about 1990, FDTD techniques have emerged as primary means to computationally model many scientific and engineering problems dealing with electromagnetic wave interactions with material structures.

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