LightTools Enewsletter

March 2019

LightTools 8.7 Available Now

We are pleased to announce that LightTools 8.7 is now available. This release features the following major enhancements, along with other improvements:

  • Enhanced modeling and simulation for reducing stray light in optical systems
  • New analysis features for faster adjustment of source power in lighting systems
  • Improved design features for freeform optical systems
  • Improved analysis features for biomedical optics and horticultural lighting
  • Enhancements and updates to LightTools libraries and utilities
  • Maximum rays per simulation increased to 4 billion

Software and License File Instructions

Direct-Sales Customers

Software and license key files for LightTools direct-sales customers are available on the Synopsys SolvNet 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 Distributors page referenced above, please contact us at for instructions.


Update to LightTools Installation Process

LightTools installation files are now provided in a compressed (.zip) format, so an additional step is needed to extract the files before you can access the setup file and begin the installation. See the LightTools Installation Guide for complete instructions.

Key New Features in LightTools 8.7

Enhanced Modeling and Simulation Capabilities for Reducing Stray Light in Optical Systems

This version of LightTools improves functionality for the analyzing and reduction of reducing stray light in optical systems, including new scattering models for highly specular surfaces and the addition of an independent specular component to separate imaging and stray light flux.

Maksutov-Cassegrain telescope design showing stray light paths in LightTools 8.7 

  • The following new features expand LightTools’ capabilities for ghost and glare analysis:
    • Harvey-Shack and ABg scatter models for simulating polished optical surfaces.
      For both the Harvey-Shack and ABg scatter models, a Scatter Evaluator has also been added so that you can see how the total integrated scatter (TIS) changes for different angles of incidence (AOI), refractive index differences, and wavelengths. The BSDF data/chart at the regular parameters are also displayed.
    • Microfacet scatter model for simulating very rough surfaces using a surface profile or BSDF curve simulating the scatter with random surface perturbations.
    • Contamination scattering for modeling the effects of dust and other particulates that may contaminate optical surfaces, such as mirrors.
  • To identify contributions from ghosts and flare, seven new receiver filters were added that count ray-surface interactions. Used with the Region Analysis and Ray Path features, these filters can help you to isolate imaging rays or specular and scatter illuminance, for example. 

Video: Using Count Filters and Region Analysis for Stray Light Analysis in LightTools

  • The Ray Path analysis feature delivers increased performance and provides data to locate ghost images. Enhancements to this feature include:
    • A Ray Path receiver filter added automatically when you enable Ray Path data collection.
    • A new option that enables you to calculate the following filtered data for each path: Max (peak) Illuminance, Illuminance Power, Illuminance Rays, and Max (peak) Intensity, Intensity Power, and Intensity Rays. This data can help you understand how much unwanted power is incident on your detector, for example, or identify the peak power when looking for distinct ghost images and evaluating a system prone to laser damage.
    • Options for specifying a Normalized Power Range so that you can filter the results to a subset of ray paths based on the total power collected in each path.
    • Surface sets added to support ray path analysis. These can be used when you have imported geometry that has split a surface into two or more faces but you consider the same or when you do not need to distinguish individual surfaces on a solid, like rays traveling through a light guide. When a surface set is defined on a solid, all paths that hit any of those surfaces have a path string that specifies the surface set name instead of the surface and zone names. The effect is that there are generally fewer paths in the ray path results.
  • Improvements to scatter aiming provided additional flexibility when specifying aim areas, with options for polygonal and surface-based shapes, as well as the ability to position the aim area in global coordinates.


New Analysis Features for Faster Adjustment of Source Power in Lighting Systems

A new feature added for receivers enables you to adjust scale factors on sources in the model. The source scaling feature enables you to rescale the power collected by a mesh without having to change the flux on individual sources or rerun the simulation. The options for this feature are on a new Source Scaling tab in the receiver's Properties dialog box.

Video: Source Scaling for Color Optimization

Improved Design Features for Freeform Optical Systems

The following enhancements were made to the Freeform Design Features, which are available in the Advanced Design Module:

  • Distortion Correction - allows the Freeform Designer to correct for secondary optics that are placed between the Freeform Designer optic and the Freeform Designer target. Examples of secondary optics include cover plates, turn mirrors, and projection assemblies.

Ray Fan Before Distortion Correction

Ray Fan After Distortion Correction

  • You can now display charts in the Design Feature Manager for the following Fresnel loss data: Total Transmission, Input Surface Transmission, Output Surface Transmission, Surface Transmission, and Exit Angle.


Improved Analysis Features for Biomedical Optics and Horticultural Lighting

  • Biomedical Optics

Improved capabilities for defining the scattering interaction distance has been added to the  Henyey-Greenstein, Gegenbauer, and User-Defined Volume scattering particles. In addition to the Mean Free Path (MFP) definition available in previous releases, it is now possible to define the scattering distance using the Scattering Coefficient and Reduced Scattering Coefficient definitions, which are commonly used in industries such as Biomedical Optics. Data can be added and easily converted between the three definitions in a wavelength-dependent grid in LightTools. 

  • Horticultural Lighting

You can now evaluate your optical system performance in units of photon flux, which is a typical unit for horticultural lighting design and has been used in some quantum systems.


Usability Enhancements

  • Model Reference Coordinate Systems - You can specify a Model Reference Coordinate system for positioning points, solids, sources, receivers, and NS Rays. Based on any user-entered or imported coordinate system, the Reference Coordinates are displayed on the Coordinates tab for each entity’s properties.

Using Reference Coordinate Systems in LightTools

  • An option to export simulation rays as CAD wireframe entities
  • The ability to sort and reorder model elements in the System Navigator
  • Read and write support for TM-25 and LucidShape ray data files
  • Support for human eye vision tone mapping in luminance output


Enhancements and Updates to LightTools Libraries and Utilities

Improvements were made to the Light Guide Designer, Street Lighting utility, Parameter Analyzer, Backlight Pattern Optimization (BPO) utility, Backlight utility, Thin Film utility, Ray Data Plotter, and Volume Scatter Logger.

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

For More Information

For additional details about the content of the LightTools 8.7, see the LightTools 8.7 Release Notes. To see all the new feature videos for this release, visit the Customer Support Portal. If you have any questions about features in this release, please contact

Register for LightTools Training

We are taking registrations for our upcoming LightTools training sessions. Visit our website for more information, and to register online today. Seats are limited, minimum enrollments apply.

Introduction to Illumination Design Using LightTools

March 19-21, 2019
Mountain View, CA

Selected Topics LightTools

April 16-18, 2019
Mountain View, CA

LightTools New User Orientation Webinar Available

Did you miss our live orientation webinar for new and prospective LightTools users? If you have access to the Customer Support Portal, you can view the webinar recording at your convenience. This recording provides an overview of the types of optical systems LightTools can help you design, and then reviews core concepts for starting LightTools.

If you haven’t already registered for Portal access, consider registering for an account today! 

Current customers can access LightTools resources and content at any time on our Customer Support Portal ( The site features training materials, user group presentations, FAQs, macro downloads, recordings of previously held webinars, and more. Once your account is activated, an e-mail will be sent to you to confirm your login information.

Calendar of Events

For the latest event calendar, please go to our Events page.