How to model a Powell lens?

  • 3 July 2020
  • 2 replies

I am trying to use a Powell lens for line illumination. Does anyone know how to set up a surface model of the Powell lens in Zemax? 

2 replies

Userlevel 5
Badge +2

Hello Hu,

Thanks for your question here!

To model a Powell lens, you can use one of the Biconic or Biconic Zernike Lens/Surface Objects. There are variants of these in both Sequential and Non-Sequential Mode. You can find a description of the Biconic Zernike Lens Object in the Help under “The Setup Tab > Editors Group (setup tab) > Non-Sequential Component Editor > Non-Sequential Geometry Objects > Biconic Zernike Lens”. The Biconic Zernike Lens can be useful as it allows for the usage of Zernike terms along with aspheric sag defined in terms of X and Y. Alternatively, you may also try to use a Toroidal Object/Surface; you can find two cylindrical lens sample files for this in “\Documents\Zemax\Samples\Non-sequential\Miscellaneous” and “\Documents\Zemax\Samples\Sequential\Miscellaneous” folders.

As another possibility, you can generate a swept object with the Part Designer, or use a CAD software to draw it and then import it into OpticStudio. Alternatively, you can find a CAD drawing from a manufacturer and import that. For example, there are some developed Powell lens CAD models on Thorlab's website. You can download the Step file, place it in the folder: \Zemax\Objects\CAD Files, and then in OpticStudio choose Object Type: CAD Part: STEP/IGES/SAT to load the file.

If you’re also interested in optimizing a system like this, please check out our Knowledgebase article that goes over the optimization process for a similar system in Sequential Mode; it optimizes for a flat top profile (uniform spatial illumination):

How to design a Gaussian to Top Hat beam shaper




Userlevel 5
Badge +2


Just to add one more inforamtion. In many case, this can be built with hyperbolic shape, like the example in this document:

Best regards,