Sequential ray-tracing - Optical elements are intersected one at a time and light travels from surface to surface in a predefined order. It is used to model the geometrical components of optical systems, define the optical properties of objects, approximate light sources with directional rays and then predict real-world system behavior. All activities are based on the fast physical optics software VirtualLab Fusion, which provides a platform for connecting inbuilt and customized electromagnetic field solvers. This approach enables fast physical optics with ray tracing embedded in a well-defined way. Optical fibers is a small, easy to use application specially designed to help you analyze the ray tracing process and the changing of ray tracing modes. This application cross-platform being developed using the Java programming language.
Engineering professionals, students and educators use this software to perform simple ray tracing or solve tough optical engineering, optical system design and imaging problems. DbOptic includes a fully integrated glass catalog and basic lens design library. OpticalRayTracer is a very portable Java program meant to analyze and model systems of lenses. It accurately models the physics of lenses, including the effect known as dispersion.
SolTrace is a software tool developed at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to model concentrating solar power (CSP) systems and analyze their optical performance.
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Although ideally suited for solar applications, the code can also be used to model and characterize many general optical systems. The creation of the code evolved out of a need to model more complex solar optical systems than could be modeled with existing tools.
SolTrace can be installed either using the official NREL packaged distribution or from source code at the SolTrace open source project website. NREL welcomes contributions from programmers to the simulation engine or to the interface and encourages interested persons to get involved. More information on contributing, compiling the source code, and license requirements is available on the project website.
More information is available.
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The code uses Monte-Carlo ray-tracing methodology. The user selects a given number of rays to be traced. Each ray is traced through the system while encountering various optical interactions. Some of these interactions are probabilistic in nature (e.g., selection of sun angle from sun angular intensity distribution) while others are deterministic (e.g., calculation of ray intersection with an analytically described surface and resultant redirection). Because it replicates real photon interactions, the code can provide accurate results for complex systems that cannot be modeled otherwise. Accuracy increases with the number of rays traced, but larger ray numbers means more processing time. Complex geometries also translate into longer run times. The code (written in C++) is extremely fast and automatically takes advantage of every processor present in a particular Windows- or Mac-based operating system. Although the input is text (or spreadsheet), a plug-in is provided for the free solid modeling tool Trimble SketchUp that will allow users to graphically design and save optical geometries for SolTrace analysis.
SolTrace can be used to model parabolic trough collectors, linear Fresnel lens systems, power tower geometries, and point-focus optical systems (dishes and solar furnaces). It displays data as scatter plots and flux maps, and can save data for processing with other software. It also can model optical geometries as a series of stages composed of any number of optical elements that possess attributes including shape, contour, and optical quality. Stages can be either physical or virtual to allow for easier accounting of power and flux throughout the system. A scripting language is provided to allow the user to create parametric runs and additional functionality beyond the core ray-tracing capabilities.
With the release of the SolTrace open source project, the software has adopted semantic versioning in which the version number consists of three parts — the major, minor, and patch counters. The current version number represents the first release under the open source project and the third major version, and consequently, it is assigned the major index '3'. The current version can read SolTrace files from version 2016.12.22 and prior, although compatibility has not been extensively tested.
SolTrace Version 3.0 is the most current version.
I have been using Paul Lutus‘s OpticalRayTracer program to do some basic raytracing simulations for a non-imaging optics application. It has proved to be extremely useful. I am exploring the source code today because I would like to add a number of features that are currently not supported.
The main feature I’d like to add is support for multiple ray sources. Currently the program only supports one source, which can be either a plane source of collimated rays (i.e. a source at infinity) or a point source of diverging rays. For some applications, it would be useful to have multiple individually configurable point sources.
I would also like to add additional controls for the ray source parameters such as X-Y position and angle. Currently these controls appear to be optimized for a very specific application case which does not fit my application.
Thirdly, I’d like to add support for other optical elements such as prisms and light guides. I have been able to get creative with the current program using overlapping lenses to form light pipes, which seems to work well. This leads me to believe that the core physics component will not need modification, so it should hopefully be relatively easy to just add a new component type with the appropriate optical surfaces identified and it should just work.
Lastly, it would be super useful to be able to define groupings of optical components that can be moved together rather than have to move each optical element individually.