LightTools Enewsletter

December 2018

LightTools 8.7 Release Candidate (RC) Available Now

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

  • Enhanced modeling and simulation for reducing ray 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

The LightTools 8.7 RC is a fully tested early version that we are making available to customers who would like to begin using its new capabilities now. If you encounter any issues with this release candidate, we encourage you to report them to Critical issues discovered during the release candidate period will be addressed in the final version of LightTools 8.7, scheduled to be released in a few months. 


Obtaining LightTools 8.7 RC Software 

To obtain the LightTools 8.7 RC software, contact

Obtaining LightTools 8.7 RC License Files 

Your LightTools 8.6.0 license file is valid to use for the LightTools 8.7 RC. If you do not have a LightTools 8.6.0 license file, you can obtain one from the Synopsys SolvNet site at For details about how to download a LightTools license file from SolvNet, see the Obtaining CODE V and LightTools Software and License Keys video from the Customer Support Portal.

Key New Features in LightTools 8.7 RC

Enhanced Modeling and Simulation for Reducing Stray Light in Optical Systems

This version of LightTools improves functionality for the analysis and reduction of 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 RC

  • 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 (deltaN), 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 is automatically added when you enable Ray Path data collection.
    • A new option 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 have been added so that you can filter the results to a subset of ray paths based on the total power collected in each path.
    • Surface sets have been 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, scaling the results on the receiver as if the source power had been adjusted accordingly. This allows you to scale the source power at the receiver level without rerunning a 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. The Scattering Coefficient and Reduced Scattering Coefficient are related to the Mean Free Path by:

Scattering Coefficient (μs) = 1/MFP

Reduced Scattering Coefficient (μs’) = (1-g1)/MFP where g1 is the anisotropy factor of the particle phase function.

  • 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 wire 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

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 RC, see the LightTools 8.7 RC 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

BSDF Library Updates on the Customer Support Portal

The latest Synopsys measured BSDF library is available on the OSG Customer Support Portal.

In addition to the updates included in this release, the Customer Support Portal has new or updated files, such as Mold-Tech textures that have been aluminized and topcoated by Vergason Technology, Inc.

The following BSDF data have been added or updated:

  • Mold-Tech mold textures (all are molded in black GP Polystyrene and aluminized with in-chamber HMDSO topcoat by Vergason Technology, Inc.)
    • MT-11000
    • MT-11010
    • MT-11020
    • MT-11030
    • MT-11040
    • MT-11050
    • MT-11060
    • MT-11070
    • MT1055
    • MT1055-1
    • MT1055-2
    • MT1055-3
    • MT1055-4
    • MT1055-5
    • MT1055-6
    • MT1055-7
    • MT1055-8
  • SPI mold textures (all are molded in black ABS and aluminized with in-chamber HMDSO topcoat by Vergason Technology, Inc.)
    • SPI-A1
    • SPI-A2
    • SPI-A3
    • SPI-B1
    • SPI-B2
    • SPI-B3
    • SPI-C1
    • SPI-C2
    • SPI-C3
    • SPI-D1
    • SPI-D2
    • SPI-D3
  • Black Anodized Aluminum (added BSDF for blue and red wavelengths)
    • Black anodized aluminum smooth
    • Black anodized aluminum rough
  • ALBIS (Note: these volume diffusers are too opaque for a  volume scattering measurement.  Instead, the BRDF has been measured for samples that have an SPI-A2 surface finish)
    • ALCOM AWL 10 WT1308-05LB
    • ALCOM PBT 700/2 WT31-956LB

LightTools Tech Support During the Holidays

From December 24, 2018 to January 1, 2019, please allow for a delayed response to your request for LightTools technical support. Our technical support will be very limited during this time and will be available only by e-mail. 

We will resume business as usual and respond to product support and general inquiries on January 2, 2019. You can contact us via e-mail at

Thank you for your patience and understanding.

In countries where we have international representatives, you can contact the distributors directly. Please see our list of global contacts on our website.

Design Competition

Students are invited to enter an optical design class assignment or thesis work completed during the 2018-2019 academic year using LightTools. Entries are due June 14, 2019. Awards totalling $10,000 will be granted. Enter your project today!

Calendar of Events

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