Research Output
Analysis of electromagnetic wave propogation using 3D finite-difference time-domain methods with parallel processing.
  The 3D Finite-Difference Time-Domain (FDTD) method simulates structures in the time-domain using a direct form of Maxwell’s curl equations. This method has the advantage over other simulation methods in that it does not use empirical approximations. Unfortunately, it requires large amounts of memory and long simulation times. This thesis applies parallel processing to the method so that simulation times are greatly reduced. Parallel processing, though, has the disadvantage in that simulation programs require to be segmented so that each processor processes a separate part of the simulation. Another disadvantage of parallel processing is that each processor communicates with neighbouring processors to report their conditions. For large processor arrays this can result in a large overhead in simulation time.

Two main methods of parallel processing discussed: Transputer arrays and clustered workstations over a local area network (LAN). These have been chosen because of their relatively cheapness to use, and their widespread availability.

The results presented apply to the simulation of a microstrip antenna and to propagation of electrical signals in a printed circuit board (PCB). Microstrip antennas are relatively difficult to simulate in the time-domain because they have resonant pulses. Methods that reduce this problem are discussed in the thesis.

The thesis contains a novel analysis of the parallel processing showing, using equations, tables and graphs, the optimum array size for a given inter-processor communication speed and for a given iteration time. This can be easily applied to any processing system.

Background material on the 3D FDTD method and microstrip antennas is also provided. From the work on the parallel processing of the 3D FDTD a novel technique for the simulation of the Finite-element (FE) method is also discussed.

  • Type:


  • Date:

    31 March 1996

  • Publication Status:


  • Library of Congress:

    QA75 Electronic computers. Computer science

  • Dewey Decimal Classification:

    004 Data processing & computer science


Buchanan, W. J. Analysis of electromagnetic wave propogation using 3D finite-difference time-domain methods with parallel processing. (Thesis). Edinburgh Napier University. Retrieved from



3D finite-difference time-domain; curl equations; parallel processing; simulation; transputer arrays; clustered workstations; LAN; local area network;

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