March 2022 Community Updates

  • 24 March 2022
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Welcome to the March edition of the Zemax’s Community review newsletter! This newsletter provides updates for you, the user, on items you might find interesting or helpful from the last month! In this article, we will call out forum posts you may have missed and will honor a Zemax user who has made a contribution to their peers! Check out each of these items below:

Is there something else you’d like to see? Let us know in the comments below!


Check out the updated Code Exchange!

With the launch of the updated forums in August 2021, we introduced the Code Exchange - an exclusive forum for supported users. Within the forum, Zemax engineers and other users are contributing their coding solutions. In this space, you will find everything from ZOS-API analyses to DLLs to ZPL macros. 

Upon request, we have updated the way users access the Code Exchange. Now, the forum category is accessible regardless of support status. You will only be asked to log in when you try to download the solution files.

Looking for a new source or analysis tool? Check the Code Exchange first. You may find it there!

Are you interested in contributing?  Create a topic in the Code Exchange category using the tag Code Exchange - for review. Be sure to include a ReadMe doc or the submission will not be accepted. An example template is attached. Once posted, our team will verify it and work with you to have it officially posted in the downloads center.


Keep up-to-date with your Zemax product through our User Groups

Here at Zemax, we offer many ways to learn about the software. We offer guided tutorials, Knowledgebase articles, and a thorough Help System for each of our products. Did you know that we also use the forum to share FAQs? Zemax technical staff regularly post tips & tricks on the Community.

If you’re an OpticsBuilder or STAR user, then you will be able to find these kinds of posts in a user group! See below:

Upon joining a user group, you are automatically subscribed to the group’s feed. You will be notified any time our staff posts a tutorial. You can also ask questions about your software and seek advice from other users. Join now!


Featured Community Posts: Structural and Thermal Analysis

During your design process, are you performing any STOP analysis where stress and heat loads can significantly impact the performance of the optical system? Here are some interesting posts about the STAR module, the tool that enables OpticStudio to integrate FEA results.



Zemax-er Spotlight: David Nguyen

@david.nguyen is a Science enthusiast. He worked at Zemax for a year before going back to the academic world. He has stayed a passionate Zemax-er and is very present in our community, sharing his knowledge and helping other users. David now works at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology (LMB) in Cambridge (UK) on microscopy solutions. To read more about David, click Show Content below. 

Tell us about yourself

I am a research scientist at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology (LMB) in Cambridge (UK). My job is to facilitate the integration of state-of-the-art microscopy solutions for the Zlatic group, which studies the neurobiology of the fly larvae. The microscopes we are building are generally not commercially available and their design is published by laboratories specialized in microscope development. As such, these instruments require a certain level of expertise in optics to be built, aligned, and operated. Moreover, if the microscope target application is different, the implementation can require modifications to the original design, which need to be carried out by someone qualified in optics as well.


In the future, I hope to find ways to bridge the gap between state-of-the-art research microscopes and high-end commercial equipment. Not every research microscope is destined to be commercialized, but most of them find niche applications in biology laboratories that are essential to advance their research. However, these laboratory might not have the optical resources to integrate those solutions. I strongly believe that we can elevate the conditions of research microscopes such that they can be used more readily by other laboratories. This might require tolerancing those instruments, an exercise often thought to be reserved for commercial devices. However, I'm convinced it will not only help spreading the technology faster, but it will also make the research more reproducible.


What industry trends are you excited about?

Recently, I got excited by the development in rescan confocal microscopes. I find this technology to be an elegant way into super-resolution. As an optical engineer, I always strive to improve the raw images as opposed to rely on post-processing them, and the rescan confocal technology is one of those raw image improvements. I am also excited about the development of tuneable acoustic gradient index of refraction (TAG) lens. These lenses enable axial scanning at unprecedented speed in raster-scan systems, which have the potential to change the image acquisition paradigm.


If you could offer one piece of advice to someone using OpticStudio, what would it be?

Do not dive into OpticStudio hoping to reproduce your real life scenario straight away. Most often, I find that real-life simulation are prohibitively time consuming and don't bring much more to the table. Instead, use OpticStudio with intent. Figure out what you want OpticStudio to simulate, start with the simplest model possible (make extensive use of paraxial surfaces), make sure the software outputs what you want, and if you feel you still need to, try refining your model by making small changes at a time.


Also, get familiar with the Help File. It might not look user-friendly, but it contains most of the information you need to get started. You just need to invest a bit of time to understand its structure and how to navigate it.


What contributions have you made to Zemax in the past that others should know about?

I made a user-extension to create boundary constraints automatically that I use quite often. It puts the same boundary constraints than the Merit Function Wizard, but only for the surfaces that have a variable thickness.

Some people have also like this other post where I shared a code to write binary source files.


Lastly, I made an immersion objective lens model based on a paper in this post. However, I couldn't really reproduce all the paper results and I'd be interested to have someone else's opinion on the topic.


If you have contributed a Knowledgebase article, what is it about? Who will benefit most from reading it?

I did write an article about resolution in imaging systems. Resolution is a term people often use as a measure of performance of an imaging system. However, the definition of resolution is not universal, and this leads to confusion as to how it should be measured. In the article, I try to clear some misconceptions about resolution and point my readers to the relevant tools in OpticStudio that can be used to assess some measure of resolution.


What topics are you looking forward to discussing with your fellow Community members?

I'm looking forward to seeing changes happening with regards to stock optics. In academy, few labs can afford custom optics, and the quantities are low. Therefore, we heavily rely on stock optics. OpticStudio has a stock lens matching tool, but it suffers from certain limitations. I think it has prompted some interesting discussions and I hope to see more of those tools that would facilitate the integration of stock optics.


What do you enjoy most about the Zemax Community/forums?

I strongly believe that you only understand something once you can explain it to someone else and they get it. The forum is a platform where I can exercise my knowledge. By helping others, I learn myself, and when I need help, I'm not afraid to ask anymore. I feel like, in optical design, we were missing a platform like the Zemax Community. I have seen some questions asked on the Physics Stack Exchange but this is not really dedicated to optical design much less about OpticStudio.



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