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# d'Alembert Digitized: A Wave Pulse Method for Visualizing Electromagnetic Waves in Matter and for Deriving the Finite Difference Time Domain Method for Numerically Solving Maxwell's Equations

preprint

posted on 2023-11-30, 19:33 authored by Ross Hyman, Nathaniel Stern, Allen TafloveAn alternative way of visualizing electromagnetic waves in matter and of deriving the Finite Difference Time Domain method (FDTD) for simulating Maxwell's equations for one dimensional systems is presented. The method uses d'Alembert's splitting of waves into forward and backward pulses of arbitrary shape and allows for grid spacing and material properties that vary with position. Constant velocity of waves in dispersionless dielectric materials, partial reflection and transmission at boundaries between materials with different indices of refraction, and partial reflection, transmission, and attenuation through conducting materials are derived without recourse to exponential functions, trigonometric functions, or complex numbers. Placing d'Alembert's method on a grid is shown to be equivalent to FDTD and allows for a simple and visual proof that FDTD is exact for dielectrics when the ratio of the spatial and temporal grid spacing is the wave speed, a straightforward way to incorporate reflectionless boundary conditions, and a derivation that FDTD retains second order accuracy when the grid spacing varies with position and the material parameters make sudden jumps across layer boundaries.