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Every optical system has to be designed before it can be built up. In order to calculate whether the optical system fulfils the claimed specifications it is necessary to carry out a simulation of the optical system taking into account all relevant optical effects. For many optical systems it is sufficient to make a ray tracing simulation including optical path length calculation. But especially if the size of the optical system becomes quite small more and more diffraction effects have to be included in the simulation. Moreover, modern optical systems contain besides classical refractive and reflective optical elements also holographic optical elements (HOE) and diffractive optical elements (DOE) or graded index lenses.

To design and simulate optical systems containing an arbitrary number of refractive, reflective, diffractive optical elements or graded index lenses the design program RAYTRACE was developed in our group for the last 23 years. RAYTRACE allows the calculation of the "classical" merit functions for optical imaging systems like wave aberrations, point spread function, modulation transfer function and so on. By using non-sequential ray tracing also illumination systems can be simulated. It also allows the simulation of complete interferometers and the simulation of diffraction and interference effects in microoptical array systems.

Implemented features

  • Exact vector ray tracing
  • Implemented surfaces: plane, spherical, cylindrical, parabolic, aspheres, polynomial surfaces, user defined surfaces
  • Interactive menus to enter the data and to run the program
  • Tracing of diffractive optical elements and arrays of elements
  • Sequential and non-sequential ray tracing
  • Calculation of spot diagram, wave aberrations, PSF and MTF
  • Simulation of interferograms
  • etc.

The latest program version runs under Windows XP and Windows 7. Download the recent demo version of RAYTRACE.

Fig. 1 Part of a set-up for the test of an aspherical surface by using only a spherical condensor as compensator.
Fig. 2 Interference pattern between two diffraction orders of a DOE used as null-lens in an interferometer for testing aspherical surfaces.
Fig.3 Fractional Talbot effect in the ¼ Talbot plane of the foci of a 6x6 microlens array. The number of foci is doubled and walk-off effects can be seen at the rim.
Fig.4 Demonstration of non sequential ray tracing. Light falling onto a diffractive optical element (DOE) at the top left corner in coupled into a glass plate and guided via total internal reflection. At the right side the aperture of the light bundle is split into a transmitted part and a reflected part. The reflected part is guided back to the DOE and coupled out.
Fig.5 Scheme of an objective (sequential ray tracing).
Fig.6 On-axis wave aberrations of the objective of fig. 5.