Mar 16, 2022

From nanoscale to macroscale: Why optics matters

Category: Product News
From nanoscale to macroscale: Why optics matters

When consumers evaluate products, the old adage "seeing is believing" is true on many levels. Beyond simply visualizing the product's operation, the human eye also perceives potentially disruptive visual factors, such as varying screen resolutions, high beam brightnesses, and glare.

From nanoscale to macroscale: Why optics matters

Ansys Speos excels at simulating how humans and sensors perceive light for a given system or environment. But optics—the study of light—isn't just about what you see. How light behaves and interacts with matter begins on a nanoscale. It includes the design and production of devices that transmit or detect light, and then carries through to how light is perceived in the world. From photons to electrons and back, the study of optics enables our electronics to display and detect light with the pixels that make up our TVs, monitors, and digital cameras.

With the recent Ansys acquisition of Zemax, engineers have a comprehensive optics solution to simulate how light behaves at the nanophotonic level with Ansys Lumerical, how light is manipulated with instruments and lenses using Zemax optical design software, and what the human eye and cameras will see at the system level using Speos. This end-to-end workflow leverages the strengths of each tool while accelerating optical design and development by integrating different underlying simulation technologies and facilitating collaboration.

Zemax OpticStudio model of a wide-angle field-of-view camera used in applications such as autonomous vehicle sensors and aerial drones.

Figure 1. Zemax OpticStudio model of a wide-angle field-of-view camera used in applications such as autonomous vehicle sensors and aerial drones.

Addressing precision and complexity with an integrated solution

Multiple product market environments depend on accurate optics simulation, from health care and industrial robotics, to cameras and screens in consumer electronics, to the critical sensors used in advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS), and more. Optical raytracing and reliable lens design are essential for these applications, requiring intricate imaging system creation and strict requirements for precision, tolerancing, and manufacturability.

To illustrate this need for precision, consider ADAS, where each optics component must be optimized for a specific use case that considers the component's position on a vehicle and its primary function. For example, an optical component might support a back-up camera used in parking lots, or a front-mounted camera that triggers the emergency braking system when a pedestrian is detected on the road ahead. Optics might or might not require strong peripheral vision, but they almost universally need to function well under a range of weather and lighting conditions.

These performance characteristics influence a range of design choices, from lens shape and profile to the architecture of the camera pixels used to capture light. All these factors combine to make the task of ADAS optics design extremely complex. Equally complex is the job of verifying that these optics will perform reliably when mounted on a vehicle and exposed to real-world driving conditions.

That's one of the reasons Ansys began partnering with Zemax. ADAS designers and engineers often use Zemax OpticStudio, Ansys Speos, and Ansys Lumerical in combination to design the camera sensor and lens, then simulate their performance in a static or dynamic driving situation. These tasks are often managed by different teams, which necessitates hand-offs and collaboration.

Figure 2. The integration of Zemax with Ansys Speos and Ansys Lumerical.

With the acquisition of Zemax, Ansys customers benefit from an even deeper integration among Lumerical, Zemax, and SPEOS. The breadth of multiphysics simulation solutions in Ansys technology also opens the door to analyzing even more physics that can affect optics, including thermal and strain effects. This comprehensive offering will enable users to create optimal designs more quickly by streamlining the workflow and communication among photonics, optical, mechanical, and manufacturing engineers.

"Zemax has been a leader in optical simulation since our founding 30 years ago," said former Zemax CEO S. Subbiah in a recent press release. "Our mission is enabling customers to design sophisticated optical products and bring them to market faster. By joining forces with Ansys, we will quickly deliver Zemax's gold-standard imaging products to a wider audience and have an even greater impact on optical product development. It is a winning combination for our customers and for Ansys users across the globe."

Try Zemax optical design software capabilities for yourself, request a free trial