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October 3, 2022

Let There Be Light: Using Optical Simulation to Illuminate Your Designs

Illumination system design, in simplest terms, is the design of light. Designers transform the output of light into a specific pattern, or design, of illumination. Illumination systems can include the background screen of a cell phone; the lighting in an apartment; displays in automobiles, planes, and trains; and so much more.

As technology continues to advance, design teams are using optical simulation more each day to create and optimize illumination system designs to meet increasing demands for devices and systems in industries such as consumer electronics, automotive, aerospace, and beyond.

With Ansys OpticStudio and Ansys Speos, you can accelerate the entire optical design process; model, analyze, and predict a system’s optical performance; and evaluate your design’s final illumination effect based on human vision. Additionally, through a user-friendly, intuitive interface in Speos, you can explore the propagation of light within a 3D platform with near-countless possibilities in a realistic setting.

Bringing Things to Light

Common light sources include light-emitting diodes (LEDs), laser diodes (LDs), incandescent light bulbs, and halogen lamps. Target distribution points of an illumination system can include flux (power or radiant flux measured in watts) and luminous flux (measured in lumens); or the flux per area (irradiance and illuminance).

For reference, a standard 60-watt light bulb typically has 800 lumens. Essentially, lumens quantify the overall brightness or visible light in your design or final product.

Illumination systems are comprised of both imaging systems and non-imaging illumination systems. Imaging systems include optical systems such as photographic objectives, which form an image of an object. Non-imaging optic systems, as the name suggests, do not use the concepts of images or objects as part of the design methodology.

More than a dozen of optic tools in OpticStudio can be used to design such systems, including non-sequential ray tracing, freeform optics, ray splitting, ray scattering, and optimization.

These features simplify complex tasks and accelerate design time. For example, non-sequential ray tracing enables light rays to propagate through optical components in any order, which allows for ray splitting and scattering. With ray splitting, fewer rays are traced, which speeds up computations. Similarly, freeform optics reduces the number of optical components and therefore reduces the mechanical complexity of the system assembly.

With Speos, you can design, optimize, and validate optical systems more easily with built-in features including a lighting system modeler, lighting system analyzer, robust design optimization, optical part design, an extensive optical library, and a human vision component.

The lighting system modeler provides an in-depth understanding of how light works in your system by modeling and analyzing the luminous flux. You can also accurately predict stray light, hot spots, and uniformity of a homogenous lit appearance, which ensures your system’s performance while evaluating illuminance and luminous intensity in the visible light range.

Expanding upon the modeler, the lighting system analyzer lets you study and compare lighting systems and material efficiency while also calculating spectral luminance — the amount of light coming from a direct or secondary light source — which extends your analysis of the light spectrum from ultraviolet to near infrared.  

By using OpticStudio and Speos in tandem, you can create designs from scratch or enhance current designs. Through automation and easy-to-use, intuitive tools, you can simplify calculations for colorimetry — the measurement of the absorbency of light waves to determine and describe visible colors — and photometry, the measurement of weighted light waves to determine brightness based on the sensitivity of human perception. With these verified values, you can validate your choice of materials and light sources, which ensures your system meets any design requirements. 

Illumination check compliance

You can easily check your system’s compliance against industry standards by accessing the Ansys Customer Portal for several standard templates.

For automotive illumination system designs, you can also check your system’s compliance against industry and legal standards by reviewing several regulations in the Ansys Customer Portal​. From within the portal, click Downloads > Optical and System Products > Libraries > Standard. Here, you will find templates for several automotive national regulations and customer specifications. As an added bonus, you can get automatic measurements of this criteria.

The robust design optimization tool in Speos encourages even more engineering confidence. With this tool, you can optimize optical system lighting performance and determine optical mechanical and optical design parameters. The optical design optimizer helps bridge the gap between optics and computer-aided design (CAD) models so you can create any type of optical component, including lighting system lamps, switches, displays, and luminaries, then implement them directly into your CAD software.

Coupled with the optimization tool, the optical part design feature in Speos lets you create dedicated optical geometries for the design of lighting systems using the automated generation of prisms, which saves significantly on time.  

Illumination optical part design tool

The optical part design feature in Ansys Speos enables you to easily create optical geometries using automation and multiple tools for designing and editing surfaces, light guides, lenses, and more.

In the same manner, Speos offers unique geometrical modeling capabilities that enable you to automatically create geometries with several dozen construction elements easily in just one click, while OpticStudio provides geometric and measured light sources to aid your lighting and illumination designs.

Additionally, you have an abundance of materials and resources at your fingertips. The extensive optical library in Speos includes over 4,200 samples of lights and materials so you can select the best source, material, sensor, and standard models for your project. Likewise, the CDGM materials catalog in OpticStudio comprises some of the most sought-after optical materials. The CDGM Glass Company Ltd., located in China, is the largest producer of optical glass in the world.

Lighting the Way

OpticStudio and Speos can enhance your illumination system design from early-stage development through final validation stages while increasing productivity.

While each software provides invaluable design tools, one of the most unique features of Speos is its human vision component.

With this function, you can determine visual aspects, reflection, visibility, and information pertaining to legibility according to each human observer. Additionally, you can simulate visual predictions based on physiological human vision modeling; explore ambient lighting conditions such as day or night vision; and improve the visually perceived quality by optimizing colors, contrasts, harmony, light uniformity, and intensity.

To try OpticStudio for yourself, request a free trial here. To explore Speos, sign up for a free trial here.

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