LightTools Enewsletter, March 2020

LightTools Enewsletter

March 2020

LightTools 9.0 Available Now

We are pleased to announce that LightTools 9.0 is now available. This release features the following major enhancements, along with many other improvements:

  • User Materials Expanded to Support Birefringence
  • Polarization Charts Added
  • Simulation Maximum Increased to 1000 Billion Rays
  • Scatter Aiming Capability Extended to Measured BSDF Surfaces
  • Curved Surfaces Supported in the Backlight Pattern Optimization Utility
  • Usability Enhancements

Obtaining LightTools 9.0 Software and License Key Files

Direct-Sales Customers

Software and license key files for LightTools direct-sales customers are available on the Synopsys SolvNetPlus website.

Distributor Customers

For customers working with distributors, you will continue to obtain your software and license keys from your local LightTools software distributor. See the Synopsys Optical Solutions Group Global Contacts page for contact information. If your country is not listed on the page referenced above, please contact us at for instructions.

Updated Floating License Manager

If you use the OSG Floating License Manager to manage licenses for client computers running LightTools 9.0, you must install the latest version of the OSG Floating License Manager that is made available with LightTools 9.0. The OSG Floating License Manager software is available from the same source that provides your LightTools software (e.g., SolvNetPlus or your distributor). This version of the OSG Floating License Manager can also manage licenses for client computers running earlier versions of LightTools as well as CODE V and the LucidShape family of products. 

Note that prior to installing the OSG Floating License Manager, you must first uninstall from the host server the following applications (made available with LightTools 8.7 or earlier) using the Windows Control Panel > Programs and Features:

  1. OSG Floating License Manager Admin Tool 
  2. Sentinel RMS License Manager 

For more details, please consult the LightTools Installation Guide Chapter 3, or contact support at

Key New Features in LightTools 9.0

User Materials Expanded to Support for Birefringence

Optical systems are increasing the use of polarizing elements including birefringent materials – materials that have two polarization-dependent refractive indices. This release allows you to define elements and analyze systems that are created with uniaxial and materials. The effects of wavelength and angle of incidence are automatically included in the analysis.

A fan of rays splitting into ordinary and extraordinary rays at a uniaxial crystal interface

The following figure shows a LightTools model of a Double Glan-Taylor prism made of calcite – a uniaxial, birefringent material. At the two interfaces, the polarization component that aligns with the extraordinary index axis (the Z axis in LightTools) will transmit, while the other polarization component (aligned with the Y axis) sees the higher, ordinary index and TIRs off the interface. The double prism further extends the extinction over a single prism configuration. LightTools can be used to see the effects of tolerancing the alignment of the calcite crystal or the prism angles, as well as to simulate the extinction, especially for non-collimated beams such as this one.

Double Glan-Taylor calcite prism modeled in LightTools. Watch the tutorial.

Polarization Charts Added

Simulation of polarization optical systems, including those using birefringence, can be better understood with the new polarization chart. This shows the state of the polarization so that optical systems can maximize the flux needed for a specific polarization.

Polarization chart for a half-wave plate

Polarization chart for a quarter-wave plate

Simulation Maximum Increased to 1000 Billion Rays

With one trillion rays now available for a simulation, the sampling limits are lifted for virtually all Monte Carlo simulations. This significantly expanded ray trace limit allows you to achieve better results for stray light analysis and luminance calculations.

Scatter Aiming Capability Extended to Measured BSDF Surfaces

The aim area feature in LightTools has been extended to support measured BSDF surfaces. This capability can significantly improve the efficiency and accuracy of stray light analysis in systems with measured BSDF surfaces.

Curved Surfaces Support in the Backlight Pattern Optimization Utility

With LightTools unique Backlight Pattern Optimization utility, you can now design display systems with curved panel shapes. With this capability, your design can conform to a dashboard, rotate about a user’s field of view, or conform to novel consumer electronic shapes, all with high spatial uniformity.

Curved surface optimized with Backlight Pattern Optimization utility. Watch the tutorial.

Usability Enhancements

More than a dozen modifications were made to improve usability in this release, including options for zooming in on a specific surface or object, to apply optical properties or align other components, for example. New layout options save the size and arrangement of your LightTools views, which enables you to restore a model with views positioned as they were when you closed it; you can also take a snapshot of a layout that can later be restored, which can be helpful when you share the model with a colleague as you collaborate on a design.

Improvements to the Utility Library

Improvements were made to the Light Guide Designer, Backlight Pattern Optimizer (BPO) utility, Parameter Analyzer, and Ray Path Analyzer, and the Surface Selection utility was added under Geometry utilities.

Enhancements to LightTools Libraries

Updates were made to the Example Model Library, the Materials Library, the Optical Properties Library, and the Glass Catalogs.

Support for Windows 7 Ends Soon

LightTools 9.0 and any 9.0 service releases will support both Windows 7 and Windows 10 operating systems for 64-bit applications. However, because Microsoft stopped supporting Windows 7 in January 2020, LightTools releases after version 9.0 will not support Windows 7.

For More Information

For details about these and other features in LightTools 9.0, see the LightTools 9.0 Release Notes. If you have any questions about features in this release, please contact

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

New Blog: How did LightTools come about?

LightTools is celebrating 25 years! Read how LightTools illumination design software came about, and how it developed its defining features. Written by Mike Hayford, former LightTools Architect at Synopsys, now retired.

Continue Reading...

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