Saturday, February 16, 2013

Optics/ray tracing simulation

I wanted to get a simulation where one can see the light rays in an optical system, for instance bouncing in mirrors or going through lenses. I found the following two packages:
  1. A very preliminary alpha release of this: http://code.google.com/p/pyoptools/
  2. One can probably use Blender with particle effect to simulate the rays. There is an example here and how to do it, here.
  3. A Matlab library created by Bjorn Gustavsson: http://www.mathworks.com/matlabcentral/fileexchange/27412-opticalbench. See screenshot below. It is actually pretty easy to use and decently documented. Unfortunately doesn't cover mirrors, which I needed. I thought about adding it, as it didn't look too tough if it was a flat mirror. Nevertheless, I needed eliptical mirrors and something tells me that finding the intersection to those surfaces wouldn't be straight forward.

In the end, I decided not to complicate my life, which certainly I don't need to, for my simple problem. Will just do it mentally. Sorry if I can't help you more... If you have a good tool for this, please comment! Thank you!

UPDATE 1: My company had some licenses for Zemax, so, I endup using that. It was not very difficult to learn but I have no idea how expensive it is.

UPDATE 2: Saw the following links just to simply learn/play with optics or get a feel on lenses:
  1. http://arachnoid.com/OpticalRayTracer/
  2. http://phet.colorado.edu/sims/geometric-optics/geometric-optics_en.html
  3. http://micro.magnet.fsu.edu/primer/lightandcolor/javalens.html

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