Optical modelling software

In the August/September Product Focus, we take a look at the latest versions of optical modelling software


Breault Research Organization (BRO) has released ASAP NextGen V1, featuring Optics Manager, Automatic Script Creation, Workflow Manager, and Parallel and Remote Distributed Processing.

The Optics Manager offers an easy-to-use interface presenting users with a familiar CAD-like tree structure. Using simple menus, context sensitive dialogues and the included ASAP catalogues, users can create a variety of optical surfaces and geometric entities, import CAD geometry, add optical properties and a light source, and setup ray tracing and analysis options.

Automatic Script Creation, another new feature, automatically creates a working script from the complete system prescription once systems are constructed in the Optics Manager. Users needing access to ASAP’s powerful scripting language can modify these scripts to add multi-variable analysis or optimisation using the new Optimisation Manager.

The Workflow Manager provides quick and easy access to command menus for those users less comfortable with scripting in ASAP NextGen. Commands can be found in the search box or in the Workflow Manager tree, which has been organised around the standard four-step simulation process in ASAP, geometry, sources, ray tracing and analysis.

The Parallel and Remote Distributed Processing feature will automatically run parallel processes on all cores on a local PC, as well as all cores on up to five remote licenses of ASAP installed on the LAN. In addition, users can control the number of cores accessed on each machine.


Comsol has introduced version 5.3 of its Multiphysics and Server products. The Multiphysics software encompasses every step of the modelling and simulation process, including geometry setup, specification of physics and boundary conditions, meshing, solvers, and post-processing.

The Comsol software features a dedicated Wave Optics Module and Ray Optics Module for virtual prototyping of optical systems and devices. The Wave Optics Module includes tools for modelling electromagnetic wave propagation in waveguides, optical fibres, couplers, gratings, and much more.

The Ray Optics Module is a specialised tool for high-frequency electromagnetics modelling. Application areas include cameras, telescopes, solar energy harvesting, and high powered laser systems.

Powerful multiphysics modelling capabilities in addition to the Application Builder, which allows simulation specialists to create apps based on their Comsol models, enables a culture of innovative product design.


Version 7.8.2 of TracePro from Lambda Research has new tools written for ray path sorting using filtering to minimise cross-talk, maximise optical throughout and reduce stray light in any system. TracePro’s 3D solid modelling CAD engine with multi-threaded Monte Carlo ray tracing creates a virtual environment that accelerates production time to market.

The software’s easy-to-use CAD interface with one-level-menu deep philosophy helps the design and analysis process for any optical and illumination system. TracePro’s 3D interactive optimiser provides interactive ray tracing directly in the lens, reflector and baffle construction process to brainstorm optical and illumination solutions on-the-fly. Built-in design tools expedite the prototype-to-manufacture process for both imaging and non-imaging systems including tolerance analysis and photo-realistic rendering.


Photon Engineering has released version 16.41 of its FRED software, which offers new features designed to make optical system engineering in FRED more usable, diverse, and efficient.

The release includes enhanced ray buffer preference settings; FRED Optimum will now use up to 63 threads for multi-threaded ray tracing and analyses. The ray buffer preference settings have been modified so that the 64-bit version can store up to 1 billion rays in RAM at a single time. Additionally, the ray buffer preferences dialogue now reports additional information about the total ray counts allocated by the current settings and the total amount of RAM available on the computer. This additional information makes specifying the ray buffer RAM allocation settings more convenient.

A new option has been added to scatter importance samples that allow them to be applied only when the scatter rays being generated meet a scatter ancestry level requirement. This option is useful when a scattering surface supports multiple scattering paths that are differentiated by their scatter ancestry.


The latest release of RSoft Photonic Component Design Suite from Synopsys accelerates optoelectronic device analysis with an updated interface to Synopsys' Sentaurus TCAD products.

The release builds on the RSoft tools' capabilities for modelling nanoscale optical structures with an improved bi-directional scattering distribution function (BSDF) calculation for mixed-level LED/OLED simulations.

The Sentaurus TCAD interface provides integration of the RSoft optical tools in Sentaurus Workbench for in-depth, multidisciplinary simulations of optoelectronic devices. Usability improvements include support for systems with dispersive materials and dynamic updates of materials and the common simulation area.

Native bi-directional data interchange between the RSoft tools and Sentaurus Workbench has been expanded to include the BeamProp tool for waveguide detector simulation, giving designers a substantial speed advantage. Specifically, BeamProp's new general monitor objects perform highly efficient optical power absorption calculations to speed photodetector simulations by up to 100 times when compared to FDTD-based methods. This enables faster device characterisation and optimisation, and also reduces time-to-market and development costs.


VPIphotonics’ Design Suite Version 9.8 provides access to four professional application-specific simulation tools with common usability, design process and data analysis capabilities: VPIcomponentMaker Photonic Circuits, VPIcomponentMaker Fiber Optics, VPItransmissionMaker Optical Systems and VPIlabExpert.

Significant enhancements of the user interface and tools operation help streamline design and analysis processes. New and improved simulation capabilities ensure continuous support of cutting-edge research and efficient product development for new technologies, components and systems.

Applications range from integrated photonics and optoelectronics, fibre-based lasers and amplifiers, to low-cost high-speed direct detection and high-capacity flexible digital coherent systems.

VPIphotonics Design Suite Version 9.8 comes with over 850 ready-to-run demonstrations that illustrate its functionality and application range. New demos address applications such as coded modulation, Stokes vector modulation, PAM, PON transceiver characterisation, 5G wireless backhaul over fibre, DBR fibre lasers, electrooptic components, and others.


Zemax’s LensMechanix has been awarded Certified Gold Partner Product status by Solidworks, a 3D CAD program by Dassault Systèmes. LensMechanix is the only Certified Gold Partner product that is specifically designed for the needs of optomechanical engineers.

LensMechanix 3.0 is the latest version of the add-in, which includes new features to simplify the transition from optical design to mechanical design. Users can: isolate spot size, beam clipping, and image contamination issues using the new design troubleshooter tool in the optical performance summary table; create ISO 10110 drawings for manufacturing optical components; and see visual representations of information about optical component tolerances and sensitivities.

In addition, the latest version of Zemax’s OpticStudio, version 16.5, includes new features to tackle stray light and photoluminescence, and also usability improvements.