Frequently asked questions
Who is Optica meant for?
If you are reading this then Optica is likely meant for you.
If you are working on a new optical problem that has never been solved before, Optica was made especially for you.
If your job is to create optical innovations, then please consider Optica.
If you wish to do full electro-magnetic simulations of light scattering from large-scale optics, such as axicon lenses, down to sub-wavelength scales, such as: gratings, fiber coupling/ optical communications, nano-structures, light-field displays, or photon sieves, then Optica EM is perfect for you!
If you are already a Mathematica user working with optics, then of course Optica is especially good for you! (Nevertheless, we have found that the majority of our users acquired Mathematica as a result of Optica rather than the other way around!)
Who shouldn't use Optica?
If you love using Zemax or work at a company that demands the uniform exclusive use of a specific optical design tool (that's not Optica), then perhaps you shouldn't use Optica (or at least you had better learn both tools to keep your job!)
If you have no interest in innovation, then Optica is probably not for you.
If such things are indeed the case, however, ... then how did you end up reading this?
What makes Optica different?
Most optical modeling packages work as black boxes with a constrained (albeit large) design space that are often presented in the form of spread sheets and pull-down menus. Such products must always make assumptions about their users: assumptions that are often very wrong. The result is a tool that requires expert users who have trained possibly for many years before they can be proficient. In the end, such products are hard-pressed to help with innovation because of the enormous overhead involved in using the tools and near-total lack of customization.
Optica takes the philoscopy that every user is going to be completely different and has a unique set of challanges to solve. At its root, Optica is a computer language for describing, interacting with, and optimizing optics.
Written in the
Wolfram Language, Optica is an authoring environment, connected to Mathematica, that creates bespoke stand-alone interactive optical models. Such interactive custom models can be used to repeatedly determine a different optimal solution of the same optical system under different circumstances.
In many cases the same user who developed the tool will also be the user of it. In other cases, however, the final user may be a sales person, vice president, or manufacturing technician, who may not be trained in optical design but needs to explore the optical design space or communicate with a non-technical audience or find a solution without the help of the original developer.
Note that many stand-alone modeling tools developed from Optica can run solo! Once created with Optica you can now run your interactive ray-trace models with the Wolfram Player App on your iPhone (shown below), on the Wolfram Cloud, on an
HPC system, or on your own website!
Can I use Optica with other optical modelling tools?
Some companies have a policy of requiring all of their employees to use one particular optical design package. Optica does have the ability to interact with the file types of some other optical modeling packages such as Zemax and Code V. For example, you can often import optical designs made by Zemax, use Optica to improve the designs, and then export your final designs back to Zemax to share with your Zemax colleagues.
What is new in Optica?
Optica SE™ (Standard Edition) package now offers many new features that include: free-form optical design, improved import/export from Zemax™, better editing tools to help new users get started and simplify the
creation of interactive optical models. In addition, Optica SE now integrates seamlessly with
BeamWise™, an interactive combined optical-solid modelling editing tool that transparently interfaces with Solid Works™ and optical design packages such as Zemax™ as well as automating the creation of BOMs from standard off-the-shelf optical components and fixtures.
Optica EM™ (Electro-Magnetic) can perform both paraxial and non-paraxial, vector-based, polarization-dependent electromagnetic simulations. It makes them easy to perform and intuitive to carry out. Unlike the scalar paraxial assumptions of Fourier/ Fresnel-transform based methods, Optica EM takes into account full vector diffraction with polarization so that accurate information about diffraction efficiency and energy transfer can be determined. Because Optica EM is generalised and does this without direct use of rigorous coupled wave theory or finite difference time-domain methods, you can simulate EM behaviour over vastly larger temporal and spatial scales than otherwise possible. Optica EM can also exploit rotational or translational symmetry in order to model optical systems on your laptop that would otherwise require a supercomputer!
The vector diffraction theory, now embedded in Optica EM, has been applied over a period of two decades to research highly innovative antenna concepts, mainly to predict their far field directivity patterns based primarily upon a ray tracing process. In this way, the theoretical basis of Optica EM has been thoroughly tested over a range of microwave and millimetre wave frequencies, by comparing its results against industry standard, finite element EM analysis, such as CST™ and HFSS™. It has consistently been found to yield a close correspondence, usually to within 1 dB, but delivering its calculations in a small fraction of the time, (i.e. minutes rather than days), that was otherwise required! As such, today's Optica EM is extremely stable, well proven and, most importantly, unlikely to contain any significant errors or omissions in its implementation.
During the past two years, the Optica EM product has been carefully extended for use in optical wavelengths (THz), to now include near, focal and far field analysis, in both cartesian and polar representations for V, H and C polarization. This requires a somewhat different set of challenges than its original use at much longer wavelengths. The foremost challenge at optical wavelengths is that the calculations are considerably more time-consuming than at the previously used longer wavelengths. To help overcome these problems, the core code of Optica EM uses a highly optimised, parallel C++ implementation, (reverting to multi-processor WMV format if a C-compiler is not installed). This means that, in comparison to other methods of simulation at optical wavelengths, Optica EM is lightning fast! Moreover, the example simulations of Optica EM use the latest features of Mathematica™ to convey the modelled results graphically and in video animation formats.
To learn more about Optica's new capabilities, please click on the "Learn more about Optica" button below.
Can I use Optica with solid modelling tools?
Optica can easily share information with solid modeling packages such as Solid Works and CREO either on its own or through
BeamWise™, a third party tool that works with Optica. For example, mechanical fixtures or even optical component models can be imported into Optica as an STL data file. Finally, Optica can export back the three-dimensional shapes of optical components or the traced light pathways using DXF or STL file formats.
In fact, Optica can even replace the use of a solid modelling package in certain situations. For example, Optica has frequently been used to design opto-mechanical fixtures that are then 3D printed directly from the STL output generated from Optica.
How do I upgrade to the latest version of Optica?
If you already own an older copy of Optica, you can purchase an upgrade to latest Optica version from our on-line store.
In addition, there are discounted upgrade plans available in our on-line
store if you wish to upgrade to the new Optica EM package and you are already an Optica owner. The upgrade price is used if you wish to upgrade to Optica EM for the first time. After the first year of use, you can continue receiving the latest version by renewing your annual support plan.
Finally, there is a new
subscription option available for users who would prefer to pay on a monthly schedule.
How do I get a trial version of Optica?
You can get a time-limited trial version of Optica SE and Optica EM through our on-line store. After your installation is complete, please send us a password request and we will send you a time-limited password to use for 30 days. More extended trial periods can be accommodated by signing up for a subscription plan for the desired time period.
Feel free to
contact us if your needs are not met with the above solutions.
Do you offer a site licenses for Optica?
Our on-line store offers built-in options for commerical
site licenses of Optica SE and Optica EM for different sized groups including: 1, 2, 3, 4, and company-wide. In addition, there is a special Optica EM site license rate for
academic research. Finally there are built-in site-license monthly
subscription plans available for both commerical and academic users.
Note that although some site plans for commerical use have limits placed on the numbers of concurrent users, an academic research site license does not have such limits as long as the users all belong to the same University. An academic site license is also valid for all course work use at a University, sparing the need for teachers and students to purchase their own copies of Optica.
How can I get a quote?
Just contact us and ask for a quotation. Please note that prices given in quotations will usually be identical to that shown in the on-line store.
Can I get an invoice when I purchase Optica on-line?
An invoice is automatically generated for you when you make an on-line purchase.
What forms of payment may I use to pay on-line?
Our on-line payment system normally allows credit cards, bank cards, electronic checks, and wire transfers. Our on-line store allows customers to process their payments with either Stripe or PayPal.
Do you have any resellers for Optica?
If your institution requires the use of a reseller in your country, please
contact us to find a reseller near you.
How can I become a reseller?
We normally only use resllers outside the United States. If you have a reseller business in a different country then contact us and we will send you a reseller agreement if deemed appropriate.
What makes Optica EM different from Optica SE?
Optica EM (Electro-Magnetic) contains all of the features found in Optica SE (Standard Edition). The essential difference with Optica EM is that it has the abilitiy to make arbitrary, polarization-dependent, vector diffraction calculations of TEM fields, which Optica SE cannot accomplish. In particular, Optica SE does not calculate diffraction in the Fresnel region or polarization-sensitive diffraction. However, Optica SE can still calculate the point spread function, which is a polarization-independent, paraxial, scalar diffraction calculation.
Do you offer a version for Students and Teachers?
offer special discounted classroom prices for students and teachers. However, it is recommended that you contact us first before purchasing to confirm eligibility.
Do you offer a version for Hobby/Amateur Astonomy use?
Discount pricing is
available for non-professional users. However, it is recommended that you contact us first before purchasing to confirm eligibility.
I just bought Optica. How do I install it?
Please visit our support page for installation instructions.
What version of Mathematica is required?
Optica works with all versions of Mathematica including the current version 12.
Does Optica support 3D displays?
We have been working on this for the VR but not finished. If you have an expertise in this please let us know and perhaps we can work together on it for the quickest possible implementation.
To what extent is Optica compatible with NDIA's GPUs like Tesla?
Because Optica is deeply rooted in Mathematica, there is every chance that it is already compatible or easy to implement. We am planning to confirm this compatibility in the near future. If you are interested, we would love to hear about your application.
Does Optica EM use Rigorous Diffraction Theory?