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Edward Flagg
Department of Physics and Astronomy
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Useful external links

Ray Optics Simulator

A versatile and easy-to-use simulator of light reflection and refraction. It has a graphical user interface, which makes it easier to use than other similar calculators. It runs in a browser; no installation needed. You can save different arrangements locally and reload them later. It even goes beyond the thin-lens approximation to simulate realistic spherical lenses and mirrors.

Gaussian Beam

Gaussian beam propagation simulator. Indispensable when designing optical systems involving laser beams (which are Gaussian beams). It is capable of automatically optimizing lens positions to match a target beam waist, which is perfect for mode-matching a laser beam into a single-mode optical fiber or a Fabry-Perot interferometer.

Grating Calculator

Plymouth grating laboratory has a helpful tool that allows one to graphically explore the dependence of diffraction angle, angular dispersion, and temporal dispersion on angle of incidence and wavelength for light incident on a grating with a certain frequency. It is useful when designing any setup involving gratings.


Free optical simulation and design software. Simulate your setup on a virtual optical table!


ToptiCalc is TOPTICA Photonics' scientific calculator specially designed for use in optics laboratories. There is a desktop version and mobile versions for Android and iOS. ToptiCalc helps you in your everyday laboratory life by offering simple but practical optics calculations like:

  • Spectral unit conversion
  • Calculating spot sizes for focused Gaussian beams
  • Fabry-Perot calculations
  • Reflection and diffraction at plane glass surfaces
  • Pulse train calculations
  • Short pulse properties and chirp
  • Conversion between linear and decibel scale


Luxpop offers a number of optical calculations on their website including:

  • Refractive indices of materials at different wavelengths and temperatures. (Especially useful and difficult to find elsewhere.)
  • Thin film reflectivity calculations.
  • Gaussian beam propagation.
  • Phase shifts upon reflection from a material.
  • Evolution of the Stokes vector (polarization) after passing through optical elements.
  • Ray tracing.

Semiconductor Materials Properties

The Ioffe Physico-Technical Institute in Russia maintains a convenient archive of the physical properties of semiconductors. For example, one can find information on the band structure of GaAs, a material of direct importance to our research.