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Dr Donald Barnhart (Founder and Principal Architect)


Donald is the Creator of Optica and Founder of Optica Software (a subgroup of Barnhart Optical Research LLC), where he has guided Optica's development for more than 30 years in addition to maintaining an active professional career as a principal-level optical scientist in areas of holography, flow cytometry, augmented reality, and DUV laser technology. He holds both a BS and MS in Electrical Engineering from the University of Illinois, and a PhD in Opto-Mechanical Engineering from Loughborough University, UK. He is a founder of the holographic velocimetry discipline and inventor of the SlideOScope.  


Donald has published papers in the fields of holographic velocimetry, holographic recording in bactereorodopsin, and computer generated diffractive optics. While living in England, Donald was once an invited guest to Buckingham Palace where he personally met with Prince Phillip and the Queen of England. He has authored over Six Patents in the fields of holographic velocimetry, augmented reality, automated optical alignment, anamorphic optics (SlideOScope), and speckle reduction. His areas of special interest include speckle reduction, computer generated diffractive optics, augmented reality device development,  and of course, the continued development of Optica's optical modeling software tools.


As a graduate student, Donald started development of Optica in 1991 to build the first successful holographic camera that takes near-instantaneous three-dimensional volumetric velocimetry measurements at a million points of fluid flows at the University of Illinois. Three years later in 1994, after publishing his ground-breaking results, which appeared on the front cover of Applied Optics, Donald founded Optica Software with the first commercial release of the Optica package for Mathematica. In these intervening years, Optica has continually enjoyed a modest but loyal following of users in the optical sciences community.

Donald lives in San Diego, California.


Ann Williamson (Scientific Computing)


After receiving a dual BS in Mathematics and Physics from Tulane University, an MS in Physics from Berkley, and an MS in Computer Science from Stanford, Ann worked at SLAC, JPL, and on the Hubble Space Telescope project before joining Donald at Optica Software in 2005 where she has been an integral part of our team for 16 years.  Ann's combined knowledge of optics, physics, and computer science has enabled her work on new Optica features as well as support Optica's customers with all of their technical and commercial questions.

Ann lives near Chicago Illinois.


Dr David Hayes (EM Analysis and Microwave Optic Design Expert)

Dr David Hayes is the Founder and retired CEO of Plasma Antennas Limited, where he has guided the company’s research and development of plasma and non-plasma selectable-beam antennas. He holds BSc, M.Phil. and PhD. in Electronics from the University of London. He is the inventor of the catadioptric plasma silicon antenna and has over 40 years' experience in the electronics industry. 


David has published papers in the fields of telecommunications, antenna technology, electronic warfare radar and signal processing. He has been the invited speaker at various international conferences. He has authored over 10 international Patents in the fields of antennas, microwave optics and signal processing.


His areas of special interest include silicon plasma antennas, wideband antennas, smart antennas for future wireless networks and RF sensor systems through the efficient electromagnetic modelling of antennas using Optica ray tracing software.  David has held a variety of research posts, including Chief Engineer, Radar Systems, Signal Processing and Millimetre Wave Group, Microwave and Optics Division, Roke Manor Research Limited.

David lives in Cornwall England.

This website

About this website.


We hope that this website reflects a set of ideals and philosophy that will both inspire and assist in the efforts of our users to achieve innovation.


Released in September 2018, this is the second website for Optica Software. Our original website ( was created in 2004. The two websites are now linked together.

Unlike most business websites, it is our goal to foster a personal dialog with all of our visitors. As such, it is important for you to understand who we are and what values are important to us with a passion for discovery at the top of the list. We hope that this is communicated in part through the images and video content used on this site.


Most of the media content used here was taken from Donald's personal collection of photographs, videos, and computer generated imagary. Either Donald or his friend Theo Gray has taken most the digital images, video, or sounds personally ... with the exception of the earth-rise over the moon of course! Of particular note are the following: 



(1) The Tesla Coil Concert video clips were recorded by Theodore Gray in 2009 at the University of Illinois and is presented here with his permission.


(2) All of the prairie landscape images have been taken by Donald on his family farm near Urbana Illinois, which is now a 110-acre protected prairie nature preserve. Known as the Barnhart Prairie Nature Preserve, it contains over 200 species of rare plants as well as a threatened mammal known as the Franklin's ground squirrel. Donald has spent most of his adult life helping to replant this near-extinct prairie vegetation back into the previously farmed fields of corn and soybeans. The ground squirrel was not reintroduced because it never left! Phase one of this task is now complete; phase two will be continuing for the next 10,000 years!


(3) Similar to Optica, this prairie project has been a >25 year effort for Donald. Watching this new landscape of prairie grow and thrive on the family farm where Donald grew up and once helped his father grow corn and soybeans has been a great source of inspiration and pleasure for him.

(4) The background image of St Ives, Cornwall England, shown within our Store, was taken and contributed by the family of David Hayes.


(5) Finally, the sunrise over Chicago (shown on the home page background) was taken out of an airplane passinger window at 5:30 AM in late September, 2015, by Donald before landing at O'Hare airport. On this particular day, Donald was on his final flight to start a new life to California. The perfect picture of a perfect sunrise seems an appropriate metaphor.

On many of the pages, we have intentionally left an empty space near the bottom of the page so that the background image can be viewed unobstructed as wallpaper on your screen, complete with environmental sound effects! For example, you will find a Play button near the bottom of this page for the sounds of cows grazing with bells (recorded in the Swiss Alps by Theo more than 25 years ago!). Other pages have sounds and images recorded at the beach or on the prairie. In fact, if you keep one of our site's background images open on your screen, it can help encourage moments of mindfulness in your office as well as make it faster to look up information on our site. In the future, we may also post scenes contributed by our users!

Credit for Earth Equinox Image: NOAA.

Earth Equinox
Cow Bells - Alps
00:00 / 00:00
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