LightTools is a complete optical design and analysis software product featuring virtual prototyping, simulation, optimization and photorealistic renderings of precision illumination applications. Its robust 3D modeling technology delivers the inherent accuracy required to simulate ray paths of light as they travel through and within optical elements and mechanical structures. The fully integrated system optimization tool improves the performance of virtually any type of illumination system, dramatically reducing the time required to finalize a design. From LCD displays to vehicle lighting to projector systems, LightTools supports all aspects of illumination design projects. Its robust design features help you quickly and efficiently create and modify your illumination system design, from initial concept phases to subsequent engineering iterations and refinements.


Enhanced Modeling and Simulation Capabilities for Reducing Stray Light in Optical Systems.

This version of LightTools improves functionality for the analyzing and reduction of reducing stray light in optical systems, including new scattering models for highly specular surfaces and the addition of an independent specular component to separate imaging and stray light flux.

The following new features expand LightTools’ capabilities for ghost and glare analysis:

  • Harvey-Shack and ABg scatter models for simulating polished optical surfaces.
    For both the Harvey-Shack and ABg scatter models, a Scatter Evaluator has also been added so that you can see how the total integrated scatter (TIS) changes for different angles of incidence (AOI), refractive index differences, and wavelengths. The BSDF data/chart at the regular parameters are also displayed.
  • Microfacet scatter model for simulating very rough surfaces using a surface profile or BSDF curve simulating the scatter with random surface perturbations.
  • Contamination scattering for modeling the effects of dust and other particulates that may contaminate optical surfaces, such as mirrors.

To identify contributions from ghosts and flare, seven new receiver filters were added that count ray-surface interactions. Used with the Region Analysis and Ray Path features, these filters can help you to isolate imaging rays or specular and scatter illuminance, for example. 

The Ray Path analysis feature delivers increased performance and provides data to locate ghost images. Enhancements to this feature include:

  • A Ray Path receiver filter added automatically when you enable Ray Path data collection.
  • A new option that enables you to calculate the following filtered data for each path: Max (peak) Illuminance, Illuminance Power, Illuminance Rays, and Max (peak) Intensity, Intensity Power, and Intensity Rays. This data can help you understand how much unwanted power is incident on your detector, for example, or identify the peak power when looking for distinct ghost images and evaluating a system prone to laser damage.
  • Options for specifying a Normalized Power Range so that you can filter the results to a subset of ray paths based on the total power collected in each path.
  • Surface sets added to support ray path analysis. These can be used when you have imported geometry that has split a surface into two or more faces but you consider the same or when you do not need to distinguish individual surfaces on a solid, like rays traveling through a light guide. When a surface set is defined on a solid, all paths that hit any of those surfaces have a path string that specifies the surface set name instead of the surface and zone names. The effect is that there are generally fewer paths in the ray path results.

Improvements to scatter aiming provided additional flexibility when specifying aim areas, with options for polygonal and surface-based shapes, as well as the ability to position the aim area in global coordinates.

New Analysis Features for Faster Adjustment of Source Power in Lighting Systems

A new feature added for receivers enables you to adjust scale factors on sources in the model. The source scaling feature enables you to rescale the power collected by a mesh without having to change the flux on individual sources or rerun the simulation. The options for this feature are on a new Source Scaling tab in the receiver’s Properties dialog box.

Improved Design Features for Freeform Optical Systems

The following enhancements were made to the Freeform Design Features, which are available in the Advanced Design Module:

  • Distortion Correction – allows the Freeform Designer to correct for secondary optics that are placed between the Freeform Designer optic and the Freeform Designer target. Examples of secondary optics include cover plates, turn mirrors, and projection assemblies.
  • You can now display charts in the Design Feature Manager for the following Fresnel loss data: Total Transmission, Input Surface Transmission, Output Surface Transmission, Surface Transmission, and Exit Angle.
LightTools 8.5
Lighttools Guide Designer

Light Guide Designer

The Light Guide Designer helps you create and optimize light guide systems for spatial uniformity of flux extraction (within a specified cone angle) and for angular centroid pointing direction. It can make light guides, add prism extractors created using 3D textures, and add receivers, sources, and reflectors, as well as other items needed for designing light guide systems.

The Light Guide Designer simplifies the complex task of designing light guide systems with unique features including:
• Algorithms developed by Synopsys to rapidly optimize flux uniformity along the length of the light guide
• Automatic modification of texture shapes and lateral positions to optimize the output direction of light
• 3D analysis tools to visualize and evaluate both the flux and angular distribution of light

The Light Guide Designer is particularly useful for the design of light pipes used in automotive lighting, medical devices and architectural lighting.


The LightTools Advanced Design Module provides a set of specialized tools to enable fast, robust modeling of reflective and refractive freeform optics in both single-surface and segmented configurations for a diverse set of illumination applications. The Advanced Design Module leverages proprietary algorithms from Synopsys’ LucidShape® products that automatically calculate and construct optical geometries based on user-defined illuminance and intensity patterns. This unique, functional approach gives designers the freedom to focus on overall design objectives rather than the implementation details of complex optical components.

Key features in the Advanced Design Module include:

  • Freeform Design features for modeling freeform reflective and refractive surfaces that are automatically shaped to form the resulting light pattern.
  • MacroFocal Reflector tool for designing multi-surface segmented reflectors, with different spreads for each facet.
  • Procedural Rectangle Lens tool for designing surfaces with pillowed optical arrays.
  • LED Lens tool for creating various types of freeform LED collimator lenses.
LightTools FreeForm Design
Lighttools example

Application Examples

Backlit displays
General lighting
LED-based sources
Machine vision
Medical devices
Projector systems
Runway lighting
Stray light simulations
Traffic control
Solar concentrators
Vehicle interior lighting