The Handy calculation tool addresses numerous specific calculation cases in various fields of photonics. Indeed, 263 computation pages are proposed in many domains : diffraction, fiber optics, geometric optics, interference, laser, optoelectronics, polarization, radiometry/photometry.
A set of conversions page is also available. The calculation pages integrate informations to guide and help for an improved understanding and a better use.
Find a calculation with the menus
The calculation pages are accessible from the drop-down menus displayed after clicking on the "handy calculations" link at the top left of each page. These drop-down menus correspond to the different fields of photonics. The related sub-menus are topics of the considered field.
After clicking on a submenu, a calculation page is displayed by default.
Find a calculation with the "search" cell
An alternative way to find a calculation is to enter key words in the search cell located in the header. Indeed, the list of relevant calculations with all key words is displayed if the button and is validated. If the button or is validated, the list includes the calculations relevant with at least one of the keywords. In any case, for each relevant calculation, the list includes a link to the calculation, a short description and eventually a small explanatory scheme.
Note that it is also possible to access to a calculation page from the list displayed in the "sitemap" page.
Calculation page overview
Each calculation page includes several blocks :
- a list of links (1) to calculation pages relevant to the topic (displayed on the left side),
- one or two calculation table(s) (2) depending on the calculation format,
- a link to a tutorial and some tooltips (3) (displayed above the calculation table(s)),
- the path (4) up to the calculation page (displayed above the tooltips and link to a tutorial),
- an explanatory scheme (5) in most of the calculation pages that can be enlarged by clicking on it (at the top left of the page).
List of links
By clarity, the list may be organized by sub topics. The user can access to the calculation of his choice by clicking on its title in the list. the title is then highlighted by appearing with a darker color. A padlock is represented to the left of each calculation title in three different ways:
- means that the calculation can be processed freely without any connection,
- means that the calculation can be processed if the user is connected and has a Student or a Premium license,
- means that the calculation can be processed if the user is connected and has a Premium license only.
More details on the accessibility of the calculations and features are provided in the features page.
Basically, each handy calculation page is used to perform a calculation from input data. Two formats are possible:
- first format for which input data and output data are separated in two tables ( "input" table and "output" table),
- second format for which only one table ("parameters" table) is displayed; one of the parameters (corresponding to the empty cell) is chosen to be the output. All the others are input data.
The input/output data units can be selected in the "unit" column. The calculation is realized and the results are displayed in the dedicated table after clicking on the button "calculate" or "table" (one of this button is necessarily displayed on the page). In some pages, the results can also be displayed in a graphic by using the "graphic" or "curve" buttons or any other custom button.
The input values can be entered either in numerical or scientific format using a maximum of 14 digits .
The output values are displayed in scientific format with a minimum of 2 decimal places and a maximum of 6 decimal places.
variable input parameter
Except for the conversion pages, it is possible to perform the calculation by varying a parameter in a range of values. The input parameter to be varied is then selected by the corresponding radio button in the "variable" column. Its minimum value valmin and maximum value valmax are entered respectively in the corresponding "MIN" and "MAX" cells. Finally, the number of values +1 to be considered is entered in its "STEPS" cell. The calculations are realized for each value of the parameter valmin+i/STEPS*(valmax - valmin). i varies from "0" to "STEPS".
the input values can be entered either in numerical or scientific format using a maximum of 8 digits. The results are displayed in scientific format. Displayed input and output values use respectively 6 and 4 decimal places. The number of values ("STEPS" columns) is limited to 200.
The results can be either displayed in a table or in curves.
The results appear in a table after clicking on the "tableV" button. For each output, three columns are displayed. The first column labelled "cod.Er" corresponds to an error code which value is 0 if the calculation has been processed and 1 if it has not been processed because it is not possible or not accurate enough. The second column corresponds to the value of the variable input. The third column is the output value. The fixed input values are diplayed on the top of the table.
The results appear in curves after clicking on the "curveV" button. There are as many curves as output parameters to calculate. For each curve, the abscissa represents the variable parameter values and the ordinate represents the output values. The fixed input values are diplayed on the top of the curve.
In each page, input cells are filled by default to allow the calculation. These default values are first automatically loaded. In some cases, they lead to an error message because they are not relevant to the computation. This comes from the fact that they may be used in different pages and they cannot necessarily be appropriate to each of the calculations. Next, these default values can be replaced by values entered or computed by the user and can also lead to error messages in certain calculations. One solution would have been to choose different parameters for each calculation page but it was not adopted because it is sometimes useful to use input values or calculated values as input values in other pages without having to re-enter them.
In some pages, the message "not possible" may be displayed in the parameter(s) cell(s) to be calculated without any prior error message. This is because, some intermediate tests are performed during the calculation in order to avoid unrealistically or inaccurate values. Unlike preliminary tests like those preventing from divisions by zero, eventual issues arising from these tests can not be displayed as a full error message and therefore appear directly in the cell(s).
Some mismatchs can happen in the second format of calculations where any parameter can be calculated from all others. There are cases where the display accuracy is not sufficient and computation of an initial input using results from a previous calculation may lead to a different value than the original one. In general, the difference is small. However, there are cases where the difference can be large (for instance, the re-computation of the "dark current" in the "shot noise current" page with very different initial values for the "photocurrent" and "dark current"). Higher display accuracy would solve this issue but would cause other problems in the current display modes.
The tooltips and tutorial are available for a better understanding of the calculation. Here are their functions :
- about displays a tooltip explaining what the calculation does.
- caution displays a tooltip detailing the main precautions when entering the input data.
- parameters displays a tooltip giving the definition of each parameter involved in the calculation.
- glossary displays a tooltip giving the definition of some specific words used in the page or relevant to the calculation.
- tutorial is a link to a tutorial page about the calculation topic.
The tooltips appear when the user hover the mouse over its label. It is also possible to display a tooltip content in a separate page by clicking on its label.
Using the glass catalog and choosing wavelengths
In some computation pages, the refraction index is an input parameter. Instead of enterring a number, the user can enter a glass reference from the catalog page (path : handy calculations/general/catalogs).
If the wavelength is not an input parameter of the concerned page, the calculation uses the refraction index of the selected reference at the default wavelength defined in the wavelength page (path : handy calculations/general/wavelengths). Initially, the default wavelength is 0.55 microns. However, it can be changed by clicking on the wavelength page and enterring a new value in the "lam" cell.
When the wavelength is an input parameter of the computation page,
the calculation uses the refraction index at the enterred wavelength and this wavelength is also registered as the new default wavelength that can then be used in other calculations.
For chromatism calculations, instead of enterring the refraction indexes of a medium corresponding to the smallest and the largest wavelengths of the considered spectrum, the user can also enter a glass reference from the catalogs defined in the catalogs link. By default, the smallest wavelength is 0.48613 microns and the largest wavelength is 0.65627 microns. However, these wavelengths can be changed in the wavelength page by enterring new values in the "lam_min" and "lam_max" cells.
Note that It is necessary that "lam_min" < "lam" < "lam_max", otherwise an error message is displayed.
Advanced calculations is a flexible tool enabling more complex computations than the handy calculations pages. It is focused on the analysis of optical systems through the "Advanced calculations/system analysis" page (later called system analysis page). It therefore simulates the real propagation of rays. In addition, paraxial and radiometric calculations are also available.
Almost all kind of systems are compatible for calculations. Actually, up to 22 surfaces can be entered. Different types of surfaces can be used : spherical, conical, aspherical, toroidal, biconical, paraxial and paraxial without symmetry of revolution. The tool offers the possibility to tilt and decenter surfaces.
The aperture can be defined in different ways : numerical aperture, half angle, surface diameter and f-number. It's position is specified by a surface of the system. Alternatively, the system can be telecentric in the object space or in the image space. The use of circular and rectangular aperture/obscuration is also possible.
Up to 7 different wavelengths and 7 different fields can be employed.
In addition, radiometric calculations can be processed with various sources (including black and grey bodies) of different shapes : punctual, circular, rectangular, cylindrical and annular.
Many options are available for the calculations and the display of results. Finally, it is possible to save the actual input data in the user computer (no input data is stored on the "optical-calculation.com" server). Various analysis features are proposed.
Among others, the possible calculations include 3D texture ray tracing, spot diagrams, ray aberrations, wave front errors, point spread functions and modulation transfer function. Additionnally, it is possible to evaluate the best position for the observation surface based on a spot size analysis.
The features also include paraxial and chromatism analysis as well as the evaluation of the transmitted power from a source.
"System analysis" page overview
After clicking on the "Advanced calculation/system analysis" link, the user is redirected to a page enabling to enter the number of surfaces of the system. This is the appropriate page to start with as the number of surfaces has to be defined first. Regardless the page displayed when browsing the "Advanced calculation/system analysis" tool, the same menus will always be proposed on the same line just below the header:
- "Input" menu (enabling to define input parameters),
- "output" menu (enabling to perform the calculations),
- "save/upload" (links to a page enabling to save or upload input data - only displayed if the user is logged) .
The "input" drop-down menu includes the following list:
- "number of surfaces" (enables user to define the number of surfaces of the system),
- "surfaces parameters" (enables user to define all the parameters of the surfaces),
- "add or remove a surface" (enables user to add or remove a surface anywhere in the system),
- "aperture and fields" (enables user to define the aperture size and location as well as the fields of interest),
- "wavelengths" (enables user to define the wavelengths of interest),
- "light source" (enables user to define the light source for the radiometric calculations),
- "options" (enables user to define optional parameters for calculation and display).
The various calculations can be carried out from four drop-down menus : "paraxial", "aberrations", "chromatism" and "radiometry". Each drop-down menu displays links to calculations and to the associated tutorials.
The "paraxial" menu includes the following calculations links:
- "conjugation" (calculates the paraxial conjugation and paraxial parameters),
- "aperture" (calculates the paraxial aperture in the object and image spaces).
The "aberrations" menu includes the following calculations links:
- "2D ray tracing" (displays the rays and system in a plane),
- "3D wire frame ray tracing" (displays the rays and the outlines of the system in 3D),
- "3D texture ray tracing" (displays the rays and the textured system in 3D),
- "one ray calculation" (calculates the propagation of a single ray),
- "spot diagram" (displays the spot diagram),
- "ray aberration" (displays the ray aberration curves),
- "encircled energy" (displays the encircled energy curve),
- "table WFE" (displays the wave front error in a table),
- "surface WFE" (displays the wave front error as a 3D surface),
- "MTF" (displays the modulation transfer function curve),
- "best focus" (calculates the best focus position for the observation surface),
- "PSF" (displays the point spread function in a table),
- "PSF cut-out" (displays the point spread function cut-out as a curve),
- "vignetting" (calculates the ratio of transmitted rays).
The "chromatism" menu includes the following calculations list:
- "longitudinal chromatism (displays in a curve the paraxial image position depending on a the wavelength).
The "radiometry" menu includes the following calculations list:
- "transmitted flux" (calculates the ratio of transmitted power).
Each link of the "input" drop-down menu forwards the user to an input page containing the following blocks:
- one or several input tables with as many validation buttons as tables,
- links to tooltips and to a tutorial on the top of each table for a better understanding and usage of the tables.
The input tables are different from each other. They can include all kinds of usual cells as text cells, check boxes, selection lists and radio buttons.
Some input pages (like "surfaces parameters" or "aperture and fields") may display several input tables. The input parameters are effectively recorded if the related table is validated with the related button. In other words, it is not possible to enter input parameters in different tables and then validate the tables one after the other. Indeed, once the input parameters from a table are entered, the said table has to be validated before input parameters from another table are entered.
The maximum number of characters for the input capture depends on the input parameter and is at most 14. Therefore, the maximum number of decimals is dependent on the input number itself and is limited to 13 for positive numbers and 12 for negative ones when using a normal notation. However, it is also possible to use the scientific notation ( for instance, it is possible to enter 1.23e-12 instead of .000000000000123, which would not be possible because of the limited number of characters).
Tool tips and tutorial
Tooltips are displayed when the user hover the mouse over the "about" and "caution" buttons. They are alternately displayed in a separate page if the user clicks on the related button. "About" is a tooltip explaining what are the different parameters of the table. "Caution" gives recommendations on how to correctly enter the parameters in the table. The "tutorial" link displays a page with more explanations about the input parameters and the way to define them.
Order of input parameters
The parameters of an optical system by default (actually a lens) are first automatically loaded. There is a good chance that the system to analyze will be a different one. It is then necessary to enter the input parameters in the following order:
- 1) the number of surfaces ( "number of surfaces" input link),
- 2) the mandatory surfaces parameters ( "mandatory parameters" table of the "surfaces parameters" input link),
- 3) the aperture ( "aperture" table of the "aperture and fields" input link).
Indeed, this input entry order limits the impossibility or incompatibility cases. However, while entering parameters, any impossibilities or incompatibilities are detected and an error message will appear. The order in which the other parameters are defined is random.
A calculation is directly performed by clicking on the related link of the "output" drop down menu. Depending on the selected calculation, the result is displayed through a graphic, in a table or in a text.
The related tutorial can be opened by the link "tutorial" located just below the calculation link in the "output" drop down menu. The tutorial details how the calculation may be completed and gives information on the possible options that can be used.
"Save / upload" button
It is possible to save or upload all the input parameters through the "save/upload" link at the top-right of the screen, just below the header (This button is only displayed if the user is logged in). The user is then forwarded to a new page including a "save" button on the left and a large cell with an "upload" button on the right.
For saving the input parameters, simply press the "save" button. The input parameters are then stored in the "download" folder of the user computer in a file named optical-calculation_"login".txt, where "login" is the login of the user.
For uploading input parameters, the content of a file created by the precedent process or from the "optical-calculation.com" library has to be fully copied and pasted in the "upload" cell. The "upload" button must then be clicked. The user can check that the file has been correctly uploaded by screening the different input tables.
A list of Links to tutorials is displayed through the link "tutorial" of the general drop down menu (on the right of the header). Each link is an illustrative scheme connected to the related tutorial. The topics discussed in the tutorials are those covered by the "handy calculations".
Each calculation page includes also a link to a specific "tutorial" page as mentionned before.
Note that some tutorials are accessible only for users who are connected.
A glossary is accessible through the link "glossary" of the general drop down menu displayed on the right of the header. It contains the definition of many words currently employed in photonics.