Illumination system designs using TracePro are often accomplished in an iterative manner with modifications between steps handled manually or through 2D and 3D optimization based on user-defined criteria:

  • Layout of physical geometry, setting optical properties, specifying location, and orientation 
  • Definition of optical sources as grid sources, surface sources or ray files
  • Tracing rays to calculate illumination distributions throughout the system
  • Optimization
  • Results analysis
  • Reporting

WGNED with PBS Cropped

Near Eye Waveguide Display with visualized rays


Solid Modeling

TracePro models are created by importing lens design or CAD files, or by directly creating solid geometry within TracePro. You can modify imported or built geometry using move, rotate, and scale operations for solid objects and sweep and revolve operations for surfaces via the user-friendly, 3D CAD interface. Special tools allow you to insert primitive solids (tubes, blocks, cones, and spheres), and optical elements (lens elements, reflectors, and Fresnel lenses).

TracePro’s utilities allow interactive sketching to quickly enter 2D and 3D profiles and then extrude, revolve, and combine these profiles to create sophisticated geometry, like lightpipes and biconic reflectors, as well as free-form optics. Visualization options include solid rendering, silhouette, wireframe, hidden line views, and the ability to pan, rotate, and zoom, as well as other standard geometry manipulation techniques.

Optical Properties

A wide range of material and surface properties are available to apply to objects and surfaces in the model. Optical properties that you can specify include index of refraction and absorption coefficient, aperture diffraction, reflectance and transmittance coefficients, surface absorption, surface and volume scatter, polarization, fluorescence, gradient index, and temperature distribution. You can create surfaces with random or periodic arrays of repeated structures using the RepTile™ feature. You can define custom properties or choose from TracePro’s database of commercially-available materials and coatings.

Light Sources

TracePro simulates the distribution of luminous intensity, irradiance/illuminance, and flux throughout a model or at selected surfaces by tracing rays using the Monte Carlo method. Light sources are modeled by emitting rays. Additionally, TracePro’s Surface Source Property Utility enables you to digitize angular and spectral information directly from a manufacturer’s datasheet.

You can define ray sets using any combination of three methods:

  • Grid – specify spatial and angular beam profile, weighting, and dimensions along with beam orientation, polarization state, and degree of polarization.
  • Surface – specify angular distribution from one or more surfaces of a solid object using luminance flux, or irradiance/illuminance. Surfaces can also be defined as blackbody or gray body radiators.
  • Ray File – predefined ray tables consisting of XYZ starting points and direction vectors, polarization states, wavelength data, and the initial flux value or Stokes Vector for each ray. Ray files are typically created from measured results or theoretical calculation.

Ray Tracing

The TracePro ray tracing engine is known for both performance and accuracy.


TracePro provides a comprehensive set of tools to view and analyze results of the ray-trace including:

  • Irradiance/illuminance maps show irradiance incident, absorbed, or exiting a selected surface. Options are available to control output, and you can export results to a text file or a bitmap file.
  • Luminance/Radiance Maps can be displayed as true color based on the wavelengths traced. You can also create a photorealistic rendering using the optical properties and sources applied to the model.
  • 3-D Irradiance/illuminance plots map the incident flux on the selected surfaces or objects, displayed on top of the 3D CAD geometry.
  • Candela plots show luminous or radiant intensity in candela or watts/steradian.
  • Polarization maps chart the polarization ellipse for the incident flux on to the selected surface. Color levels and ellipses graphically display the degree of polarization and ellipicity at points on the surface.
  • Incident Ray Tables provide tabular output of every ray incident on a selected surface.
  • Ray History Tables give you complete history of every ray incident on a selected surface.
  • Path Sorting Tables give you a sortable table of ray paths incident on a selected surface, with interactive viewing of rays and irradiance maps.

Map and plot output can be further controlled with Ray Sorting. For example, analysis results can be filtered to show only the rays intersecting a surface, rays of a certain wavelength, interaction type, or flux range.

View the embedded image gallery online at:


TracePro offers sophisticated 2D (for axially or biaxially symmetric systems) and 3D (for asymmetric systems) optimization providing complete and interactive control of optimization parameters.


TracePro can generate a variety of ray trace and property reports. For example:

  • Flux Reports provide a summary of surface area, number of incident rays, incident and absorbed flux and lost flux. Data is displayed for bulk absorption and incident flux for each object.
  • Property Data Reports contain the model’s property data. 
  • Ray Trace Reports display physical and virtual memory usage and elapsed ray trace time.