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HomeConsultingOptical design

Optical design

PISÉO has unique expertise in optical design and simulation, as well as the technical means necessary to offer innovative optical system solutions for products or test benches. Thanks to reliable optical simulations, prototyping and tests carried out in PISÉO’s own accredited laboratory, it quickly demonstrates the performance and industrial feasibility of the proposed solutions.

With their industrial experience, PISÉO’s experts accompany you throughout your projects, from idea to industrialization. Their services include optical engineering, design, characterization, system design, imaging analysis, optical calibration, and measurement, as well as prototype manufacturing and testing.

Thanks to their know-how, their technical means, and their industrial experience, PISÉO’s experts can meet the specific needs of each customer in terms of design and optical simulation.

What is optical design ?

Optical design is the process of designing and developing optical systems. In this process, an optical engineer considers many physical factors. These include spectral distribution of light, photometry, colorimetry, optical properties of materials, spectral response of illuminated bodies and geometry of components. An engineer also considers constraints and objectives related to the intended use.

Optical design is a multidisciplinary subject that requires a thorough knowledge of both mathematics and physics, as well as a great deal of experience. It also requires a good ability to understand the needs of the application for which the system is intended.

The design process begins with the determination of the optical performance to be achieved according to the intended use. These depend on the type of system considered and the applications, whether it is lighting, imaging, or display. Depending on the systems, we will therefore specify details including illumination, luminance, uniformity, contrast, color temperature, focal length, field of vision, spot dimension and spatial frequency.

Subsequently, the optical engineer will endeavor to imagine and evaluate optical systems to meet the objectives set. For this, they will perform sizing calculations, numerically model the solutions envisaged and simulate their performance using appropriate tools. This operation can be repeated as many times as necessary until they get an optical system capable of meeting the fixed performance requirements.

At the end of this work, they provide details of the various optical components created, integrating all the mechanical interfaces, taking into account the tolerances linked to manufacturing and assembly. Finally, the experts will prototype and test the system using appropriate optical measurement equipment.

Optical design comes into play in many industrial areas including lighting, automotive and transportation, defense, space, medical, manufacturing, photography, and more.

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PISÉO’s definition of optical design

PISÉO understands optical design in a broad way. The optical system is considered as an assembly that integrates opto-mechanical and opto-electronic components, or even software. Indeed, only an overall system approach that considers all the parameters involved makes it possible to achieve an optimized design that will be able to meet the project objectives in all respects. In this way, our optical design work considers the application needs for ultraviolet (UV), visible (VIS) and infrared (IR) radiation. It considers the physical and economic characteristics of photonic components such as Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs), lasers, photodiodes, imaging sensors, materials for optics and surface treatments, as well as environmental and industrial constraints. In addition, we benefit from the close links with Yole Group analysts, who permanently watch photonic technologies, guaranteeing customers solutions at the cutting edge of progress.

optical design Lighttools

Why entrust your optical design to PISÉO experts?

Coming from large groups and Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) leaders in their fields, PISÉO’s experts have extensive industrial experience in the design and manufacture of optical systems. With great rigor, they put their know-how at the service of our customers.

The numerous research and development projects carried out in all fields constantly develop our experts’ knowledge. They also rely on their cutting-edge technical resources including proprietary calculation and analysis tools, design, and simulation assistance software such as Zemax, LightTools and Rhino, and an accredited test laboratory. The latter allows them to precisely characterize the optical performance of the photonic components selected and of the systems designed by them from model to prototype to finished product.

PISÉO experts have a unique combination of know-how and technical means. They are thus able to support your company’s development by designing and industrializing, in a rapid and reliable manner, simple or complex optimized optical systems in response to all your needs.

After over 10 years in existence, PISÉO’s innovation platform has supported many customers globally in their industrial optical system projects. Examples include a high-power infrared illuminator for an industrial specialist in surveillance, endoscope imaging for a world leader in medical systems, redesign of a lens for a lighting SME and redesign of a light guide for an automotive player.

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State-of-the-art optical design and simulation tools

PISÉO has state-of-the-art optical design and simulation tools. They represent an undeniable asset as true digital prototyping tools that allow rapid and reliable performance evaluation.

Our experts use this specialized software every day and have fully mastered it. They will do feasibility studies and optical system design on the most suitable software.


Zemax enables design studies of optical systems in imaging, from dimensioning to component specification.

This optical simulation software is particularly provided with tools for measuring image quality including Modulation Transfer Function (MTF) and diffraction. This enables quick optimization of complex imaging systems. A mixed mode can exploit solutions obtained with manufacturer data sources or Computer Aided Design (CAD) mechanical parts.

These digital prototypes can then be tested in tolerancing to estimate the manufacturing yields on different criteria expected by our customers. In addition, anxious to satisfy all its customers, PISÉO regularly updates the available materials database with commercial references from the market. Our optical simulation experts thus have the possibility of always offering the customer the best design.

simulation Zemax


LightTools® is a comprehensive design and analysis software platform for virtual prototyping of optical systems. It includes tools for advanced geometric modeling of components to which the user adds the optical properties of materials and surfaces. Many radiation sources can be modeled based on their physical characteristics including emission spectrum, luminance distribution, polarization and coherence, to simulate a wide variety of optical systems.

Beyond ray tracing simulations, LightTools® also has dedicated design tools for light guides, screen backlighting systems and complex free-form surfaces. The large number of parameters needed to design such systems makes it necessary to use suitable optimization techniques to specify optical components.

The non-sequential simulation capabilities of LightTools® make it possible to evaluate many performance parameters. These include distribution of illumination, luminous intensity types A-C, luminance, colorimetry for a wide variety of applications. LightTools® also incorporates unique analysis capabilities for the study of stray light phenomena.

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LightTools® has strengths in major optical design aspects such as:

  • advanced geometric modeling of complex surfaces, exchanging geometric data with our customers’ CAD software
  • pattern modeling
  • the optical properties of the materials: refractive index, index gradient, addition of scattering particles and phosphors
  • the optical properties of surfaces: multilayer deposits, generic diffusion laws and bidirectional scattering distribution function (BSDF), for which LightTools® has a large database of materials
  • optical properties of the sources through generic models or ray files from laboratory characterization
  • the polarization of light
  • coherent light simulations
  • the simulation of luminance distributions
  • parametric modeling allowing the use of optimization techniques
  • colorimetric analysis
  • stray light analysis