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How to Determine Which Material Catalog is Being Used

This article explains how to determine which material catalog is being used as the source of the material data for a specific surface/object. This is especially important when multiple material catalogs are loaded containing one or more materials with the same name.
Andrew Locke
Frequently Asked Questions

Understanding the Ordering of Material Catalogs

Often you will be using multiple material catalogs in a single lens system. It may not always be obvious which material catalog is being used for each surface/object in your system. This is especially true when material data with a given name is present in more than one loaded material catalog.

When you type in the name of a material for a sequential surface or non-sequential object, Zemax OpticStudio looks at the list of the material catalogs loaded in the System Explorer, under Material Catalogs:

list of catalog

When there are multiple catalogs loaded in this dialog, for each material specified in the Lens Data/Non-Sequential Components Editors, Zemax OpticStudio will search the loaded catalogs from top to bottom. Once Zemax OpticStudio finds the material specified in a loaded catalog, it will stop its search. Thus, if you specify a material that exists in more than one of the loaded catalogs, the uppermost of those catalogs is where the data will come from.

When using Zemax OpticStudio, there is an easy way to determine which catalog a specific surface’s/object’s material data is coming from. Simply click on the “Material” column of the Lens Data/Non-Sequential Components Editors and then open the Material Catalogs dialog. There are two ways to open this dialog:
  • Press “F4” on your keyboard
  • Click on Libraries  > Material Catalogs
No matter which method you select, Zemax OpticStudio will open to the specific material data entry that it is using for that particular surface/object:

Material catalog