Software

Scripts Developed by our Lab

Last Updated: 04/18/2018

This Matlab script allows calculation of near-field radiative heat transfer spectra between arbitrary isotropic multilayer stacks. It is essentially a cleaned-up version of the script used for our recent ACS NANO publication. The script is relatively simple and heavily commented, but feel free to shoot me an e-mail if you need help using it and I’ll try to reply.

List of recommended software

Created: 02/13/2018
Last Updated: 02/14/2018

Here is a list of software used by our lab. Graduate students working with our group will  learn using most of these software as part of their training. It is therefore a good list of what to install on your personal computer when you join the group!

Python (Anaconda distribution)

We use Python for numerical computation, measurement automation (that’s right, no LabView), and for producing publication-quality graphs.

I was an hardcore Matlab user until I joined Jack Sankey’s group in McGill and Jack told me Python was pretty much the only mandatory thing in his group. It took me a few months to be happy about it but now I would never go back. I have nothing against Matlab, it works fine, but as many people say: I like Matlab but I love Python. It is such a charm to use. Not counting that it is open source, which prevents us from wasting tons of time and money buying and managing licences. For students, it is also a much more marketable skill than Matlab when looking for a job: just search for both Python and Matlab in job database websites and you’ll see right away.

Octave

If like me you transitioned from Matlab to Python, you don’t have a Matlab licence anymore, but now and then you need to run some of your old Matlab scripts, Octave is a pretty interesting open source solution. I now use it to run the Matlab script I wrote for near-field radiative heat transfer between multi-layers (see my ACS Nano paper). It worked almost instantly the first time I ran the script, I only had to correct one command out of over 300 lines of codes! The plotting interface is quite lousy however so you’ll want to export .mat data file and read them in Python (using scipy.io.loadmat) to create decent plots. The is also an Oct2Py module available in Python, but I haven’t tried it.

Bottom line, if you move away from Matlab, go for Python, but for legacy Matlab scripts this is an outstanding solution.

Inkscape

Amazing open source software for creating publication-quality vectorial schematics and for editing graphs. Great alternative to Adobe Illustrator.

GIMP

Good open source alternative to photoshop, for adjusting colors, creating gradients in figures and so on.

Paint.Net

I like this basic free software for when I quickly need to crop, rotate, adjust brightness, resize an image without opening heavier software like GIMP or Inkscape.

Greenshot

Super useful for quickly saving something that appears on your screen (e.g., for notebook taking) by hitting the printscreen button on your computer and selecting the area of interest. I use it all the time, it is super smooth.

Tanner Tools L-Edit & GDSPY

I use L-Edit for MEMS layout editing. I haven’t found an Open Source alternative that I like yet. A lot of people recommend GDSPY (Python based!) for scripted layouts, but I personally like to draw things directly rather than scripting them. Still, if I had to learn one of these two tools tomorrow I’d go for GDSPY, especially now that I’m fluent in Python.  Bottom line: as a grad student in my group give a shot to GDSPY if you’d like, but unfortunately I can only help you out with L-Edit at the moment.

Primo PDF

Good free pdf printer. Has been around for years and is quite stable and reliable.

Microsoft Office

I’m not the biggest fan (who is?), but as long as they will provide free Office 365 licenses for uOttawa staff and students I’ll probably be too lazy to move to open source alternatives, as good as they may be. I  I’ll admit that the licenses are pretty simple to manage too. If you prefer Open Office or Libre Office, by all means go for it.

Google Sketchup

Pretty good for quickly creating simple 3D schematics.

ImageJ

Useful image treatment software for measuring or counting stuff on photographs. I don’t need it so often, but when I do it does a very good job.

TeamViewer

Smooth remote desktop solution. Works really well and is free.

Phantom PDF

Good alternative to Adobe Acrobat Pro for 10$/year if you have a .edu email address. Otherwise Foxit PDF by the same company is free, but has less features.

Comsol

For finite element simulation of MEMS. You don’t like the user interface in Comsol? Try Coventor and I promise you’ll be very happy with Comsol afterwards (to be fair I haven’t used Coventor in over 5 years, but man that was the worst interface back then).

Mendeley

For managing and generating bibliographies.

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