BELLEVUE, Wash., Feb. 23, 2010 – Zemax Development Corp. has added black-box capability to its optical system design software to protect designers’ intellectual property. The software is used for lens design, illumination system design, stray light analysis, LED optics and laser beam propagation. Sharing optical design data can present some difficulties for optical designers and the organizations that employ them. Although customers, suppliers and external consultants may need to receive ray-traceable data files to perform their work, providing this data exposes the original designer's intellectual property. First order methods such as paraxial surfaces, Zernike surfaces and ABCD matrices are fine for providing data such as pupil sizes and locations, or image location and magnification, but they do not provide any aberration data and so are not useful for designing subsequent or prior optical components, or for assessing image quality. The original designer defines a range of surfaces, such as radius, thickness, aperture, coordinate, dispersion, parameter and extra data, and exports it to the black box file. The file is sent, usually as part of a complete playback Zemax lens file, to the end customer. The Zemax black box contains all the information needed to trace real rays at the field point, wavelength and conjugate ratio that the recipient wants, exactly as if the original surfaces and design data were present in the Lens Data Editor. Rays go in, and the rays come out, but the detailed data is actually hidden inside the black box, and the user cannot see or modify any of the design data. The data is encrypted using a 256-bit algorithm. Black box files can be used in multiconfiguration files, and the black box file itself can be zoomed between configurations. Customers are given access to a fully traceable lens design, but proprietary information about the design is not disclosed.