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Photonic technology is becoming an increasingly attractive solution to the problems facing today's electronic chip-scale interconnection networks. Recent progress in silicon photonics research has enabled the demonstration of all the necessary optical building blocks for creating extremely high-bandwidth density and energy-efficient links for on-chip and off-chip communications. From the feasibility and architecture perspective however, photonics represents a dramatic paradigm shift from traditional electronic network designs due to fundamental differences in how electronics and photonics function and behave. As a result of these differences, new modeling and analysis methods must be employed in order to properly realize a functional photonic chip-scale interconnect design. In this paper, we present a methodology for characterizing and modeling fundamental photonic building blocks which can subsequently be combined to form full photonic network architectures. We also describe a set of tools which can be utilized to assess the physical-layer and system-level performance properties of a photonic network. The models and tools are integrated in a novel open-source design and simulation environment. We present a case study of two different photonic networks-on-chip to demonstrate how our improved understanding and modeling of the physical-layer details of photonic communications can be used to better understand the system-level performance impact.