COMSOL adds ability to simulate Sagnac interferometers and other rotating optical systems

May 30, 2018
The Ray Optics Module, an add-on for the COMSOL Multiphysics software, now simulates optical phenomena in laser and fiber ring gyroscopes.

COMSOL (Burlington, MA) has unveiled an enhancement to one of its software modules that enables engineers to model the optical effects of physical movement on optical systemsfor example, Sagnac interferometers, which are the basis for laser and fiber ring gyroscopes (and which are used in both civilian and military applications). The Ray Optics Module, an add-on product to the COMSOL Multiphysics software, now supports the ability to accurately trace rays through a moving geometry.

To showcase this capability, COMSOL has added a Sagnac Interferometer example model, complete with documentation and solution, to the Application Galleries. The new example provides simulation specialists with a working application of the Sagnac effect, the fundamental operating principle of ring laser gyroscopes, and will help those working with attitude detection to get a better understanding of the sensitivity and accuracy of such complex inertial navigation systems.

"We are very excited to share the Sagnac Interferometer model with the simulation community," says Christopher Boucher, technical product manager at COMSOL. "Just specify the angular velocity, and then you can accurately trace rays through the interferometer as it rotates, even though the two phenomena happen over vastly different time scales. This is a real game changer for those working in the aerospace and defense industries. To our knowledge, no other commercial software solution is able to execute this."

The movement in the example model is simple rotation, but the same capability could be applied to combinations of translation and rotation. Multiphysics models can also be built coupling ray tracing with structural deformation, including thermal stress, says COMSOL.

(COMSOL also notes that the Application Galleries have hundreds of other example models and apps to help simulation specialists get started using COMSOL Multiphysics.)


About the Author

John Wallace | Senior Technical Editor (1998-2022)

John Wallace was with Laser Focus World for nearly 25 years, retiring in late June 2022. He obtained a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering and physics at Rutgers University and a master's in optical engineering at the University of Rochester. Before becoming an editor, John worked as an engineer at RCA, Exxon, Eastman Kodak, and GCA Corporation.

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