As implantable optical systems recently enabled new approaches to study the brain with optical radiations, tapered optical fibers emerged as promising implantable waveguides to deliver and collect light from sub-cortical structures of the mouse brain.They rely on a specific feature of multimodal fiber optics: as the waveguide narrows, the number of guided modes decreases and the radiation can gradually couple with the environment. This happens along a taper segment whose length can be tailored to match with the depth of functional structures of the mouse brain, and can extend for a few millimeters. This anatomical requirement results in optical systems which have an active area that is very long compared to the wavelength of the light they guide and their behavior is typically estimated by ray tracing simulations, because finite element methods are too computationally demanding. Here we present a computational technique that exploits the beam-envelope method and the cylindrical symmetry of the fibers to provide an efficient and exact calculation of the electric field along the fibers, which may enable the design of neural interfaces optimized to meet different goals.
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