OptoNet Summer Course

Fast Physical Optics Modeling and Design

03 – 05 September 2024
09:00 – 16:30 (CEST)
SCALA Sky Conference
Leutragraben 1, 07745 Jena, Germany
Book here


The demand for physical optics simulation technology has grown distinctly to the point where, for many applications in modern optics, it simply cannot be avoided. Therefore switching to a physical optics model only in those parts of the system where ray tracing is not expected to be an accurate option risks missing important information about the system, mainly due to the mutually incompatible mathematical models – rays and electromagnetic fields is necessary. Furthermore physical-optical effects may also be relevant in other parts of the system were they were in principle not expected. This is the justification behind the proposal for a ›fast physical optics‹ approach: a physical optics technique which includes a generalization of ray tracing fully embedded inside the overarching physical optics framework, and which, consequently, provides physical optics simulation results just as fast as ray tracing.

In the OptoNet Summer Course Fast Physical Optics Modeling and Design, we will equip you with the necessary theoretical and practical knowledge to make the most of your work with the fast physical optics software VirtualLab Fusion!

Programm & Training Concept

Physical optics simulation tools & technology are a must-have for the analysis and design of modern systems. In this course we will be employing the commercial fast physical optics modeling and design software VirtualLab Fusion to investigate a series of optical systems taken from a broad range of fields of application. We will use these examples to introduce the most important features and details of the underlying technology of the software, from a very general perspective in the first two introductory days, and with a focus on gratings as just one part of larger, more complex optical systems in the advanced course covering the last three days. New features and changes in the latest software will of course be covered within this course.

Some of the topics you can expect to hear about: interferometry, lens systems, anisotropy, fiber coupling, ultrashort pulses, meta gratings, augmented and mixed reality lightguides, and more!

Participation Requirements & Modules

This course is designed for optical scientists, engineers, designers with varying levels of expertise with VirtualLab Fusion in mind, starting from total beginners.  

This three-day course provides an overview of VirtualLab Fusion’s fast physical optics usage and technology, and shows how to apply said technology to a series of examples from a varied range of applications. Beginner to intermediate level. 

Note: Please bring your own notebook, the required software will be provided by the organizer.


Part I - III

Part I 

  • Why do we need physical optics? The trainer will explain the philosophy behind VirtualLab Fusion
  • Field tracing enables fast physical optics. Key aspects of the technology will be presented to you
  • Building your first optical system with VirtualLab Fusion
  • Introduction to a flexible detector concept.

Part II

  • The role of the Fourier transformation in the simulation of diffraction
  • Introduction to the catalogue of algorithms for the calculation of the Fourier transformation.
  • Explanation of diffraction integrals and the Poisson spot
  • Controlling the selection of Fourier transformation algorithms, automatic selection or tailored configuration and switching diffraction on and off
  • Modeling of pinhole in system with low Fresnel number
  • Foucault’s knife-edge experiment

Part III

  • The importance of positioning
  • Non-sequential simulations: the Light Path Finder, the channel concept, master channels
  • Modeling of an etalon
  • Examination of sodium D lines with a Fabry-Perot etalon
  • Investigation of ghost image effects in collimation system

Part IV - VI

Part IV

  • Grating order channels
  • Lateral channels – lightguides and microlens arrays
  • Simulation of light propagation behind microlens array
  • Simulation of a Shack-Hartmann sensor

Part V

  • Advanced positioning and interferometry
  • Experiments with a Mach-Zehnder – complementary interference pattern caused by prism beam splitter, observation of the Gouy phase shift, generation of spatially varying polarization

Part VI

  • Connecting field solvers as the only way to tackle complex optical systems
  • Overview of the current catalogue of electromagnetic field solvers in VirtualLab Fusion
  • Abbe’s image resolution experiment
  • Optical system for investigation of microstructured wafer
  • Birefringence in calcite block, complex polarization effects in uniaxial crystals and conical refraction in biaxial crystals
  • Guidance to select your solver and simulation of tunnelling effect through air gap in prism beam splitter


Part VII

  • Advanced source modeling – the source mode concept
  • White light Michelson interferometer
  • Demonstration of optical tomography scanning with Michelson and partial temporal coherence
  • Young’s double-slit experiment with an extended source
  • Propagation of ultra-short pulse through high-NA lens
  • Simulation of Talbot effect with unpolarized light
  • Modeling of VCSELs and VCSEL arrays


  • Convenience tools and parametric optimization
  • Analysis and optimization of fiber-coupling set-up
  • Q & A

Contact & Trial

LightTrans GmbH

Phone +49.3641.53129-50

info (at)


VirtualLab Fusion

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