Comparison between the pseudo-spectral time domain method and the discrete dipole approximation for light scattering simulations Academic Article uri icon


  • The pseudo-spectral time domain (PSTD) and the discrete dipole approximation (DDA) are two popular and robust methods for the numerical simulation of dielectric particle light scattering. The present study compares the numerical performances of the two methods in the computation of the single-scattering properties of homogeneous dielectric spheres and spheroids for which the exact solutions can be obtained from the Lorenz-Mie theory and the T-matrix theory. The accuracy criteria for the extinction efficiency and the phase function are prescribed to be the same for the PSTD and DDA in order that the computational time can be compared in a fair manner. The computational efficiency and applicability of the two methods are each shown to depend on both the size parameter and the refractive index of the scattering particle. For a small refractive index, a critical size parameter, which decreases from 80 to 30 as the refractive index increases from 1.2 to 1.4, exists below which the DDA outperforms the PSTD. For large refractive indices (>1.4), the PSTD is more efficient than the DDA for a wide size parameter range and has a larger region of applicability. Furthermore, the accuracy shown by the two methods in the computation of backscatter, linear polarization, and asymmetry factor is comparable. The comparison was extended to include spheroids with typical refractive indices of ice and dust and similar conclusions were drawn. 2012 Optical Society of America.

published proceedings

  • Optics Express

author list (cited authors)

  • Liu, C., Bi, L., Panetta, R. L., Yang, P., & Yurkin, M. A

publication date

  • January 1, 2012 11:11 AM