LightTools Enewsletter, September 2020

LightTools Enewsletter

September 2020

LightTools 9.1 Release Candidate (RC) Now Available

We are pleased to announce that LightTools 9.1 RC is now available. This release delivers the following key features, as well as many other enhancements that expand modeling and analysis capabilities and usability.

  • SOLIDWORKS Link Module Efficiency Enhancements
  • Capabilities to Support LiDAR Modeling and Analysis
  • Birefringent Feature Expanded to Support Biaxial Materials
  • Distributed Simulation Solution
  • Usability Improvements

Key New Features in LightTools 9.1 RC

SOLIDWORKS Link Module Efficiency Enhancements

The following enhancements to the SOLIDWORKS LightTools Link Module can improve efficiency as users interact with linked models to develop and analyze a design.

  • Define and position ray data light sources. To facilitate the placement of ray data light sources in a linked SOLIDWORKS model, you can create a coordinate system in SOLIDWORKS and associate it with a ray data file; when the model is linked in LightTools, the ray data file is loaded, using the position and orientation provided with the coordinate system.
  • Pre-specify optical properties in SOLIDWORKS. You can now add an optical property identifier (ID) to any of the faces of solid bodies or features in a SOLIDWORKS part. When the SOLIDWORKS model is linked in LightTools, optical property IDs are automatically mapped to matching optical property names in LightTools. The mapping allows you to update multiple SOLIDWORKS faces by changing the LightTools optical property. You can also specify a default optical property ID to use for surfaces that don’t have an optical property ID.

  • Access configurations. For configurations that are defined in SOLIDWORKS, you can access and activate them in the linked model in LightTools.

Capabilities for LiDAR and Laser Sources

The following features provide capabilities needed for modeling and analyzing systems for light detection and ranging (LiDAR) or laser applications.

  • Expanded capabilities for light sources enable the modeling of Gaussian and Super Gaussian light distributions using spatial and angular apodization, for designing laser sources, for example.
  • A new analysis feature facilitates detecting objects and determining their distance. For forward simulations, you can now specify an Optical Path Length mesh for LightTools analyses. This new mesh type enables you to capture the optical path length of rays collected in a simulation, and this data can be used to approximate time-of-flight information necessary in various LiDAR systems, for example.
  • Improvements to coherent ray tracing, which allows users to address phase interference of overlapping beams, include updated calculations that consider both the phase information from the optical path length of a ray and the field amplitudes.

Biaxial Materials for Birefringent Feature

LightTools’ birefringent capability, which supported uniaxial materials in version 9.0, now also supports biaxial materials. The birefringent capability enables you to trace rays through anisotropic materials (also commonly referred to as birefringent materials) – materials for which the index of refraction is dependent on both the propagation direction of the light and the ray’s polarization state. The biaxial capability allows you to model optical systems using anisotropic materials such as mica and topaz, where the effects of polarization and dispersion are important.

Distributed Simulation Solution

The LightTools Distributed Simulation Module provides the capability to increase the simulation speed of large, computation intensive ray trace processes over a collection of computers. Initially introduced in LightTools 9.1 for forward simulations, this new module now also supports backward simulations.

Usability Improvements

  • Configuration Improvements. To automate tasks when you’re working with LightTools configurations, you can now specify one or more commands to execute when you change from one configuration to another.
  • New parametric control: grid expression. A grid expression combines the storage of grid parameter with the power of parametric expression. It allows you to store numeric data generated by a user-entered expression, copy it to use in other LightTools tables, and add it to optimization constraints, optimization merit functions, and tolerancing performance measures. Grid expressions are stored in the LightTools system (.lts) file.

For More Information

For details about these and other features in LightTools 9.1 RC, see the LightTools 9.1 RC Release Notes. If you have any questions about features in this release, please contact

OSG Online Tech Talks

The Synopsys Optical Solutions Group is proud to announce our latest round of online tech talks. We’ve pulled together a great lineup featuring product training. Register today for any or all of these talks!

Recordings of previous tech talks can be viewed at your convenience on our Customer Support Portal (account required). 

Library Updates on the Customer Support Portal

We add new materials and measured BSDF files to our libraries often, and now you can access those files between releases. The LightTools Measured BSDF Library and Material Library for non-CODE V glasses and plastics is available on our Customer Support Portal.


LightTools Material Library
Summary of Materials added or updated since LightTools 8.7:

  • Added 3 ALBIS diffuse polycarbonate plastics
  • Added 5 Dow Chemical moldable-silicone resins
  • Added 40 Evonik acrylic or PMMI plastics
  • Added 3 SABIC polycarbonate or PEI plastics

LightTools Measured BSDF Library
Summary of Measured BSDF added or updated since LightTools 8.7:

  • Added 2 ALBIS ALCOM LB plastics
  • Added 9 Mold-Tech MT-1055 series, aluminized with topcoat
  • Added 8 Mold-Tech MT-11000 series, aluminized with topcoat
  • Added 12 SPI finishes, aluminized with topcoat
  • Added 18 Tenibac 6000 series mold textures for moldable silicone, PMMA, and PC
  • Added 3 Covestro Makrofol DE diffusers
  • Updated 2 black anodized aluminum measurements

Optical and Photonic Solutions Blog

Synopsys Announces 2020 Robert S. Hilbert Memorial Optical Design Competition Results
August 24 | Read now 

Success Story: Designing the World’s First Fully Digital 3D Digital Surgical Microscope with LightTools
July 6 | Read now 

Modeling Specialized Optical Properties Using LightTools UDOPs
May 20 | Read now

Upcoming Events & Conferences

LightTools User Group Webinars

4 Sessions: September 3, 10, 17, and 24 | 10:00–11:00 a.m. PT

Details and Registration


OSA Frontiers in Optics Digital Forum 2020

September 14-17, 2020 | Online Booth 316

Details and Registration


SPIE Photonics West 2021

March 6-11, 2021 | Moscone Center, San Francisco CA

Details and Registration

Missed an enews? View the directory of past enews.