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Optimization Optical Systems with the Deformable Phase Plate Simulation Tool in Ansys Zemax OpticStudio

​In Ansys Zemax OpticalStudio: Tool for efficient design of Deformable Phase Plates​

Sector: Precision mechanics and opticsSpecialist field: Optics

​DPP, short for Deformable Phase Plates, are an innovation of the spin-off Phaseform. DPPs are optofluidic wavefront modulators that replicate the characteristics of Deformable Mirrors as refractive optical components. To give optical designers an early insight into this novel technology, PPE, an optical design service provider from Jena has developed a precise digital model as a DLL for use in Ansys Zemax OpticStudio.​



​Phaseform has developed Deformable Phase Plate (DPP), a new technology for phase modulation in the fields of optical imaging, inspection, and beam shaping. Being a novel class of optical components, the goal of the project was to make this technology available to a large community of optical designers as conveniently as possible. ​


​In collaboration with Phaseform, Photonics Precision Engineering (PPE) has developed a digital model of the DPP. In order to make the implementation in Ansys Zemax OpticStudio as simple and as realistic as possible a sophisticated DLL based on an empirical model of the hardware was developed. ​

Customer benefits

​The widespread use of the Ansys Zemax OpticStudio platform allows Phaseform to access a large number of potential customers early in the development process. They can assess and verify the benefits of DPP technology such as improved resolution and contrast, MTF and PST enhancement or PSF even before physical integration. ​

Project Details


Wavefront modulators (WF) are optical devices capable of changing the optical properties of incident light, such as dynamically adjusting its wavefront shape. Deformable mirrors and liquid crystal spatial light modulators are two well-known types of WMs: The former change the shape of their surface themselves, the latter use the orientation of elongated molecules to influence the light.

As a third variant, the company Phaseform has now created a new type of optical wavefront modulator using its Deformable Phase Plate (DPP) technology, which acts as a refractive element with a continuous surface and has the ability to dynamically correct high order Zernike aberrations. Their ease of use makes them suitable for easy integration into a wide range of applications such as life science microscopy, ophthalmology, optical inspection, telecommunications, and AR/VR.

Customer Benefit

Ansys Zemax OpticStudio, with its established features such as the Point Spread Function (PSF), wavefront display and pupil size display, has become an integral part of the design of complex optical systems for many optics designers both in research and industry. Phaseform customers can now test and evaluate the innovative functionality of the DLL in early design phases or as a retrofit component in an existing system.

Further information:


For a more rapid and broader market introduction of this new class of optical components, the optics specialists at Photonics Precision Engineering (PPE) in Jena have developed an exact digitized model of the DPP as a DLL (user-compiled Dynamic Link Library) in Ansys Zemax OpticStudio. The parameters of the DLL become optimization variables for ray tracing, and the empirical model behind this DLL ensures that all the results obtained are also reproducible with a "real" DPP in practice. This required the implementation of actual hardware boundaries in the software model. Seamless switching between hardware voltages and descriptive Zernike coefficients as input parameters added another layer of complexity in the implementation but makes the application of the DPP in OpticStudio more tangible and speeds up use-case studies.

Cover Image: © Photonics

Business Development Manager Optics

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