Frequently Asked Questions – For Morgan

This page is designed to answer frequently asked questions about Airy Optics and Polaris-M. If you do not see your question here, please contact us at


What is Polaris-M?

Polaris-M is a polarization ray tracing software, built from the ground up to take into account polarization effects at every surface. Polaris-M offers 3D plotting and a wide range of polarization analysis techniques. Coupled with Mathematica, Polaris-M is a powerful polarization optical systems tool.

What is Mathematica?

A Wolfram software, Mathematica is a powerful engine with over 5,000 built-in functions including plotting regimes.

Do I need Mathematica to run Polaris-M?

Polaris-M currently runs on Mathematica. Mathematica offers a 15-day free trial, and will provide our own trial if you wish to try out both programs.


What versions of Mathematica is supported with Polaris-M?

Airy Optics supports Version 11 or higher of Mathematica. Any earlier versions may work, but we do not guarantee accuracy in calculations, nor do we support those versions.

Does my Machine ID change when I install a new version of Mathematica?

No, your machine ID is unique to your computer and will not change with a new verison of Mathematica.

Why do I get small window titled 'Why the Beep' before opening a file?

‘Why the Beep’ means that the notebook you are openning was created in a newer version of Mathematica.


What is the main function of Polaris-M?

Polaris-M is a polarization ray tracing and analysis software. Designed with polarization in mind, Polaris-M allows users to create a wide range of polarization optics and analyze the polarization effects at every ray trace.

Does Polaris-M trace both sequential and non-sequential rays?

Yes. Polaris-M allows the ability to perform both sequential and non-sequential ray traces. Unlike most software, Polaris-M defaults to non-sequential, allowing for intuitive ray tracing.

Does Polaris-M handle surface scatter and ray splitting?

Yes. Polaris-M can handle surface scatter and ray splitting seamlessly. Polaris-M offers the option to define surface scatter and input various SCATMECH scatter properties into an optical system. Additionally, Polaris-M intuitively will split and track split rays for optical systems such as biaxial and uniaxial crystals.

Can Polaris-M take thermal gradients across the lens into account?

No. At this time, Polaris-M does not have the ability to take into account how temperature will affect the lens systems.

Can Polaris-M handle off-axis and decentered optical systems?

Yes. Polaris-M has the ability to handle off-axis systems and ray traces through the use of our surface parameter sys`a. Additionally, Polaris-M does not require that the optical system sits along the z-axis by changing the surface parameter sys`v.

How do I set up an aperture in Polaris-M?

Polaris-M has several different ways apertures can be input. Mathematica’s pure function allows users to create any shape imaginable. Additionally, Polaris-M has several built-in surfaces such as rectangular, circle, and polynomial with the surface parameter sys`aperture`type. For more information see our aperture documentation.

Why are there two surface parameters for materials? Which one do I use first?

Polaris-M has two material parameters, sys`material1 and sys`material2, to find the material before and after the surface. Polaris-M is intuitive enough to determine the order of the material and will inform users of any invalid material combinations.

What coordinate system does Polaris-M use?

Polaris-M plots in global coordinates for fixablity

Software Capabilities

What makes Polaris-M different than every other ray tracing software?

Polaris-M is unique in that it was built with polarization in mind. It not only has dozens of polarization analysis functions built-in, but Polaris-M takes the polarization effects at every surface. Additionally, Polaris-M uses the polarization ray trace (PRT) matrix to store all polarization data.

How does Polaris-M handle ray traces?

Polaris-M traces rays at each surfaces, non-sequentially. However, Polaris-M can also trace sequential ray paths.

What are key features of Polaris-M?

Polaris-M offers a wide range from features from polarization ray tracing to crystal optics. Additionally, Polaris-M can take into account gratings, birefringence, and thin films. For a list of our features and a synopsis of each, please visit our features page.

Can I tolerance my system with Polaris-M?

Yes. Polaris-M has the ability to tolerance optical systems and take into account variables such as tip/tilt and decenter.

Does Polaris-M allow for optimisation of the optical system?

Yes. Polaris-M offers the ability to optimize optical systems.

Does Polaris-M have importers for other ray trace software?

As of right now, users do not have the ability to import other optical systems files in Polaris-M. However, Airy Optics has the ability to import Code V files into Polaris-M. Please see our Engineering Services page.


Do you offer trials for potential clients?

We are more than willing to work out trials along with training sessions for potential clients. The length of the trials can be discussed, but typically are 2-weeks long.

Do you offer trials for students to test out Polaris-M?

We offer free 2-week trials to anyone with an .edu email address.

Will my license work on different machines?

Polaris-M licenses are unique to each computer. In order to use your license on a different machine, you must either transfer the license or buy a new license

What if I want to use my license on multiple machines?

You will need to purchase a license for each machine you wish to use. Please contact your Airy Optics representative to set up a plan.

License Renewal

Can I auto-renew my license?

Airy Optics can set you up for the auto-renewal process so you never miss a beat. With auto-renewal, licenses will be sent out the day the old license expires.

Can I use Polaris-M after my license expires?

Polaris-M will no longer load once your license has expired. To renew your license, please contact your Airy Optics representative.

My license has expired. How do I renew my license?

To renew your license, please contact your Airy Optics representative with the representative with your MachineID and any changes to your information. Responds may take up to 48 hours.

I am a student and my license expired. Can I renew my license?

Airy Optics supports the continued use of our licenses by students. Please fill out the student license request form to renew your license.


What Operating Systems does Polaris-M support?

As of right now, Polaris-M only supports Windows 8 or higher.

Why am I getting the following error? Get: Cannot decode encoded file; incorrect key or machine

This error is given when the computer’s MachineID does not match the installation package. Please check that the MachineID in the file name is correct. If it is not, please send correct MachineID. If the MachineID is correct, we will send you a new package.

What if I want to use Polaris-M on an Apple machine?

While many of our clients use Polaris-M using Apple machines with little issues, at this time, Airy Optics currently does not support iOS.

What if I want to use Polaris-M on an Linux machine?

While many of our clients use Polaris-M using Linux machines with little issues, at this time, Airy Optics currently does not support Linux OS.


Does Airy Optics provide webinars?

Airy Optics offers webinars in a wide range of topics from introductory courses into Mathematica, Polaris-M, and ray-tracing to birefringence and crystal optics.

How frequently do you have webinars?

Ary Optics offers monthly online webinars. To see our next webinar, please check the Webinar & Events page.

What type of webinars do you have available?

Airy Optics provides many different webinars. Our most basic course is an introduction.

Is it possible to request certain webinars?

Airy Optics will take all feedback into consideration on webinar content and may occasionally create webinars around certain topics. For company specific topics, Airy Optics can design a personalized webinars for a fee.


What kind of training does Airy Optics offer to learn Polaris-M?

Airy Optics a wide variety of training from onsite training to webinars to tutorials to help users to learn how to utilize Polaris-M.

Do you have onsite training available?

Airy Optics will occasionally offer onsite training. We also offer the ability to schedule personal onsite training at either your faculties or ours for a fee.

What kind of tutorials does Polaris-M have?

Polaris-M offers over 50 tutorials designed for users to learn at their own pace. The tutorial topics include: Mathematica & Polaris-M, Polaris-M Geometry, Optical Systems, Ray Traces & Analysis, Using GUIs, Polarization Optics, Thin Films, and other various topics.

Where can I find tutorials?

Tutorials can be found in the Polaris-M User Data section under documentation, or through the Polaris-M Notebook library.