SCOUT program modifications and bugfixes

We changed our reporting tool in August, 2014. This page is not updated any more.
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March 2014, SCOUT 3.92

New parameter fitting mode: 'Honey mode'

The purpose of this new mode is to enable fitting with small variations around the current parameter values. The new mode works like the downhill simplex mode with automatic limitation of the parameter range. When the fit is started the parameter automatically gets a low and high limit, based on the actual value p0 of the parameter. The range is controlled by a value called 'Honey mode mobility' - a value of 0.02 means that the high limit is 1.02*p0 and the low limit is 0.98*p0. These limits are active as long as the fit runs. If you press 'Stop' and then 'Start' again, new limits are computed.
You can set values for 'Honey mode mobility' for each fit parameter individually (use the local menu command "Honey mode mobility" of the fit parameter list). Alternatively, you can also set a global value for all parameters in the main menu with "File/Options/Fit": Set the value and activate the checkbox for global use of this parameter.
The list of fit parameters has a new "Action" command to set all fit parameter modes to 'Honey mode'.

March 2014, SCOUT 3.91

New material object: "Interpolate n and k tables"

This new object type works like a master model but interpolates optical constants between tables of fixed n and k values. Each table of n and k values must have a parameter value assigned to it. The object then performs linear interpolation between the tables when the master parameter is varied. Works with a single master parameter only.
This object can be used when you have tabulated literature data for optical constants for various temperatures or compositions.
Our Digit software tool can be used to produce tables from digital images in publications.
Import of Woollam alloy model data is possible.
New material object: "Add susceptibilities"
This new type of material object has been introduced to simultaneously fit an undoped and a doped version of a semiconductor. You can model and fit the undoped semiconductor as usual. To model the doped semiconductor a Drude model can be added using this new type of object. However, the new object type is not limited to this special case - you can add any 2 optical constant models.
Improved fitting:
The list of fit parameters now allows to store the current values as pre-fit set. You can define an arbitrary number of pre-fit sets. When the fit starts the pre-fit sets are checked first. The parameter values of the best pre-fit set are then used as starting values for the fit routine. The new mechanism has turned out to be very valuable to speed up parameter fitting in some cases.
The downhill simplex algorithm sometimes stopped too early, and starting it again could significantly improve the fit. This has been fixed. You can now set the deviation tolerance (which determines the termination of the fit) as a parameter which is stored with a configuration. We recommend in any case to set a global time limit for fitting in production control.
Small improvements:
The import of emission spectra in PL and EL computations is easier now. Besides modelling the emission spectrum in the list 'Transitions' you can directly use the 'Import' command to load the wanted spectrum from a file. The 'Transitions' list must be empty in order to import data tables this way. This new feature is useful if you like to use measured emission data as internal emission spectra in LED or OLED simulations.

The import of VWASE32 spectra is more flexible now.

'Multiple spectra view' objects can now be used to display spectra stored in workbook columns. This is useful to show results of the actions 'Parameter variation' and 'Parameter fluctuation'.

Indicating fit activity in views: A new view object called 'Start/Stop action text' has been introduced. You can display text to indicate the start and stop of the fit action. If a background color is assigned the color turns red while the fit is running.

The scaling of the graph created by 'Actions/Copy to clipboard' has been improved.
Objects of type 'parameter view' which lost their source disturbed the loading of configurations - fixed.
View elements of type 'Next view button' could not be created any more - fixed.
Almost 'undo':
While you work, you can click on 'Snapshot' to temporarily store the current configuration. You should do so before you make severe changes - by clicking on 'Last snapshot' you can quickly restore the last stored configuration. The menu item 'Snapshot history' shows a list of all snapshots - with a double click you can load one of these. Be aware, however, that all snapshots are deleted when you close the program. You still have to save configurations which you want to keep.
New workbook component:
Once more we have replaced the workbook component. The development of the old version has been discontinued by the producer - so we had to find an alternative. The new component has its problems, too, but seems to cause less trouble. You can now really use more than 256 columns which is a progress for those doing batch fits with large amounts of input data. You can also directly read and write *.xlsx files.
In addition, the annoying error message 'Cannot focus a disabled or invisible window' does not pop up anymore.

September 2013, SCOUT 3.81

Database window:

Type in the first letter of the material that you are searchig for - SCOUT will jump to the first item in the list starting with this letter.
New import routine:
Single spectra stored by the Zeiss Optoplex P software can now be imported.
Pressing F1 now opens the online help - not in every part of the softare, but in more and more situations where you need help.
Thickness determination by FFT:
If you perform a thickness determination by FFT (in the list of optical functions) you can now see the power spectrum as a subobject of the spectrum window. You can display the power spectrum in a multiple spectrum view object as well.

April 2013, SCOUT 3.76

More flexible spectrum computation:

Spectra can now be computed with a user-defined formula which refers to spectra further up in the list of spectra. You can refer to simulated and measured data as well as to the reference spectrum and the target spectrum. In the case of ellipsometry you can get values of both simulated and measured values of Psi and Delta.
This new feature allows you to do flexible comptuations involving several spectra. You can multiply, divide or subtract spectra and compare the result with measured data.
Fit parameter list view:
The background color of the fit_parameter_view object has been changed: The position of master parameters of master models was hard to see. This has been improved by a slight change of the background color.
The slider motion has been improved: The dangerous accidental jump from one fit parameter to another during slider actions is now avoided.
Additional grid fit option:
You can now do grid fits with a user-defined number of points on the grid.
Importing spectra:
The import of exsitu spectra from Von Ardenne CSV files has been improved.

February 2013, SCOUT 3.75

Fit parameter list:

New action item to display the original parameter name when a nickname has been introduced for a parameter
Effective optical constants, Bergman representation:
The graphs of the spectral density, the t-function and the effective optical constants can be merged in the graph of the effective medium object. The new menu items 'Spectral density' and 't-function' in the submenu 'Property' can be used to check or uncheck the appearance of the additional graphs. The 'Graphics' submenu has also new items called 'Spectral density' and 't-function'. These can be used to set the graphics, including the positioning on the output page.
The combined display can be viewed in the main view with a field view object.

February 2013, SCOUT 3.74

Fit parameter list:

New action to freeze all parameters with one click, also available in the main menu in the 'Actions' submenu (Fit settings)
New action to set all parameters to 'downhill simplex' with one click, also available in the main menu in the 'Actions' submenu (Fit settings)

Main menu, Actions submenu:
Command 'Spectra/Show spectra window' has been moved
Command 'Spectra/Hide spectra window' has been moved
New command 'Spectra/Delete all measurements'
Command 'Spectra/Import' has been moved

New command 'Fit settings/Freeze all fit parameters'
New command 'Fit settings/ Set all fit parameters to downhill simplex'

Main menu, File submenu:
New command 'Reload configuration': Reloads the current configuration. Use this command if you want to discard changes you made editing the configuration.

2D graphics:
Automatic scaling is now more flexible: You can do autoscaling for the x- and y-axis separately, or both (as before). There are menu commands for these actions. In addition, you can activate autoscaling for the x-axis pressing Alt-x (Alt-y for the y-axis, Alt-A for both).

Material objeccts:
If you display the refractive index, the label of the y-axis is now 'Refractive index n + i k' in order to make clear that it is a complex quantity with real part n and imaginary part k.

Prgram symbol in taskbar:
In the taskbar you will now see the name of the configuration file. This makes your life easier if you simultaneously work with several instances of the program.

Optical constant database window:
This window now has a more flexible graph in the upper right corner. You can optionally show the original graph (as before), or you can set a spectral range of your choice (use the lcoal 'Range' command) and graphics settings of your choice (use the Graphis menu command). If you use user-defined settings, the program always shows the complex refractive index. This feature can be used to simplify the comparison of optical constants.

November 2012

SCOUT 3.69
After a long update break (sorry!) we continue to report about SCOUT progress.

New objects:

Multiple spectra view: Show many spectra in a single graph or compare optical constants of several materials in one graph. This also works forobjects with different spectral units, making a comparison as easy as possible.
Click here to see how it works

List view: Display a list of objects as a table in a view. This significantly simplifies the display of integral quantities in views. Click on a list item to directly open the corresponding object: This gives quick access to materials, layer stacks and spectra.
Click here to see how it works

Layer view object: Displays a layer. At the moment, the only purpose of this object is to display the concentration gradient that is used in a layer of type 'concentration gradient'.

Debye relaxation: A new susceptibility type.

Pure peak fit: A new object in the list of spectra which performs a peak fit of measured data. This is no physical modeling, just a phenomenological approach to separate a measured curve into distinct peaks with well-defined parameters. Useful for Raman spectra.

New view action item: Jump to a new configuration which is downloaded from a FTP site
New view action item: Launch external file (e.g. to view a PDF document)

Parameter variation: A new object in the list of special computations. Shows how optical functions or integral quantities (available in CODE only) change with a parameter variation.

New view action item: A Script objects execute several lines of commands.

New features:

Penalty shape function for spectra: This lets you refine the fitting procedure. Instead of always applying a least-square fit you can now set a user-defined expression which defines the penalty of deviations of simulated and measured spectral values. You can set, for example, a penalty of zero when the distance of simulated and measured value is less than 1 % and go rapidly to very large values for distances larger than 1 % - you do not insist on perfect agreement in this case.

Validation rules for measured spectra: You can set rules to validate measured data. If the rules are violated no fit is performed and the rating is set to 'Invalid data'.

Suppressing material names in layer stack views can now be activated if you want to hide the real stack.

Modified handling:

Many lists now have a 'Duplicate' menu command which duplicates the selected object.

The positions of the menu commands 'Update' and 'Delete all' have been changed to keep some distance between them. 'Update' has moved to the left next to 'File', whereas 'Delete all' has been shifted to the right.

You can now overwrite the object assignment of many view objects by drag&drop if you want to show a different object. You do not have to delete the view object completely any more.

May 2011

SCOUT 3.46
We have simplified several dialogs to modify program options.
Ellipsometry objects can now automatically determine optical constants of (halfspace) substrates and use them directly for thin film computations.
Drivers for tec 5 spectrometers have been integrated.
We have added several new view elements including a powerful grid component for automatic alignment.

August 2010

SCOUT 3.33, batch control mechanism:
Entering many input files has been made much easier using the command 'Scan directory'. For an explanation of this command get the new SCOUT manual as PDF from the 'Things to read' page in our support section.
Use the command 'Fit all missing samples' of the batch control window if you want to apply the batch fit method for only those samples that have no results yet. This is useful if you have processed some of the samples manually already, using the command 'Fit this sample'.

July 2009 - July 2010

SCOUT 3.30: SCOUT is now ready for Unicode, i.e. international character sets. You can build user interfaces in Japanese, Chinese, Russian and whatever language you want to see.

Besides this, we have made numerous small modifications and several bugfixes.

September 2009

SCOUT 3.17: Saving fit parameter sets caused a 'type cast' error in some cases. This has been fixed.

July 2009

SCOUT 3.16: The 'landing zones' for assigning materials to Bruggeman effective medium objects by drag&drop have been increased. You now have a certain chance to reach them with your mouse ...

July 2009

SCOUT 3.16: We have re-entered missing items in type selection boxes which had been removed accidentally.

July 2009

During the last weeks we have re-build almost all objects related to the list of materials, i.e. those which are used to define optical constants. The consumption of Windows resources has been heavily reduced which should avoid problems loading large configurations. As a consequence of these changes the object types are different now - this has to be taken into account in numerous small procedures. We found and removed a large number of errors, mainly in drag&drop functions, but we cannot exclude the existance of some more. If you detect problems, please be patient and report to us what you observe. We will be eager to repair the software as quick as possible.

May 2009

Some customers reported about sudden crashes of SCOUT and CODE after manually stopping a parameter fit. We could now reproduce this problem on one of our PCs and fix it.

May 2009

After a long period of silence (we have been rather busy developing object generation 3) we continue to report about program changes and modifications, starting with version 3.05 .

August 2007

We noticed that SCOUT 2.88 did not do any grid fit any more - this has been fixed in version 2.89. The bug had been implemented when we worked on multidimensional grid fits which are possible now.

April 2007

SCOUT 2.84: A problem with layers of type 'anisotropic layer' has been fixed.

Starting with SCOUT 2.83 you can now use more than one layer of type 'variable thickness' or 'Thickness averaging' in a stack. However, the two layers must be separated by at least one thick layer with incoherent superposition of partial waves.

February 2007

SCOUT 2.801: A problem with layers of type 'Concentration gradient' has been fixed.

SCOUT 2.80: The algorithm to compute reflectance and transmittance spectra of layer stacks has been re-written in order to allow easier extensions. We hope that the new algorithm reproduces all old results. If you have the impression that the new version leads to different results than your old SCOUT, please send us the corresponding?configuration and describe the problem.

The first improvement of the new method is that layers of type 'Variable thickness' and 'Thickness averaging' may now be mixed with thick, incoherent layers. You can also use several of those layers in a layer stack - however, within one coherent substack the limitation to?a single variable thickness layer still applies.

SCOUT 2.79: The global range command problem described below (January 2007)?did affect objects of type imported dielectric function as well. This has been corrected in the new version. Be careful, however: When you executed the global range command, the data in the object may have been modified or destroyed. If you saved such a configuration, the original data are really lost and you have to import them again.

January 2007

SCOUT 2.78: Today we noticed that the global Range command did not work properly any more in SCOUT and CODE. It corrupted the item Vacuum in the list of materials, followed by a sequence of strange results for computed spectra. We implemented this interesting error in version 2.76 and removed it in version 2.78. If you load your configurations with the new version and execute the global Range command, the?optical model?will be computed correctly.

SCOUT 2.75: The routine to compute electro-luminescence spectra has been replaced by a new one. We are sure the new algorithm works more accurate than the previous one. The emitting layer can now be 'coherent' or 'incoherent'. The limitation of the old algorithm that the layer stack must consist of coherent layers only, has been removed. The layer stack may now contain an arbitrary number of thick, incoherent layers.

January 2007

SCOUT 2.74, several small changes and bug fixes, e.g.

  • included layer stacks can be inverted
  • volume fractions in concentration gradient layers are limited to the range 0 ... 1, even if the formula used in the computation? returns a value outside this range

October 2006

A new OLE automation property called 'color_coordinate' lets you compute color coordinates both from measured and simulated spectra.

July 2006

Beginning with object generation 2.70, the susceptibility types 'Drude model' and 'Extended Drude model' allow the input to the effective mass of the charge carriers (the default value is 1.0, i.e. the electron mass). The value is used for the computation of new optical functions (see below).

The following new optical functions are available:

Dielectric function models?deliver values for the requests

  • 'resistivity': The resistivity?in Ohm cm
  • 'conductivity': The inverse of the resistivity
  • 'carrier concentration': The carrier concentration in 1E20/cm^3

Note that these quantities are computed only in cases which make use of a Drude model or an extended Drude model for the computation of optical constants

Layer stacks compute the optical function

  • 'sheet resistance': The sheet resistance in Ohm. The computation takes into account all layers with materials that have a susceptibility of type 'Drude model' or 'Extended Drude model'

June 2006

Some?OLE commands have been added - please see the updated technical manual for details.

A bug related to Eta-Optik spectrometers has been fixed.

April 2006

2006-4-3 / SCOUT 2.62: OLE automation commands for acquiring dark and reference spectra have been implemented. The values of optical functions can also be retrieved via OLE commands.

A new automation method opens the door to time-dependent object properties: A timer signal sent to objects can be used to trigger actions like data acquisition or time-driven parameter?changes. One can now build solutions that periodically record spectra, do the analysis and log the results.

March 2006

2006-3-20 / SCOUT 2.61: SCOUT now supports Minolta's CM-2006d spectrometer in its list of spectrometers.

Grid fits of?fit parameters can now be performed in more than one dimension: Up ton now SCOUT did a series of simple grid fits when the grid fit option had been set for several parameters. Now you can alternatively?check a complete multidimensional grid of points for the best starting values of the fit parameters. You can switch between the old and the new behaviour checking or unchecking the option 'File|Options|Fit|Multidimensional grid fit' in the main window.

2006-3-15 / SCOUT 2.60: In master models you can now define lookup tables which are used to compute the values of slave parameters from the first master parameter. This mechanism can be used alternatively to specifying user-defined formulas. If you analyze, for example, a series of samples with varying composition with the help of the batch control window, you can directly copy the required lookup tables from the batch control window.?This dramatically?simplifies the setup of master models.

2006-3-6 / SCOUT 2.59: The new OLE command create_fit_parameter lets you select fit parameters via OLE automation remote control. See the updated SCOUT online help for details and a VisualBasic example.

2006-3-3 / SCOUT 2.58: Layer stacks in views were drawn upside down in some cases. This has been fixed.

The path information in the input options of the batch control window can now be relative. If the string does not contain a drive name like c: SCOUT assumes a relative path and appends the path information to the path of the current configuration file. Here is an example: The current configuration is loaded from the file c:\demo\test.sc2 and the path specified in batch control window is 'testdata'. In this case the final path is c:\demo\testdata\ (SCOUT now adds the final '\' if it is missing).

February 2006

2006-2-28 / SCOUT 2.57: Loading a SCOUT configuration with effective medium objects (Bruggeman, Maxwell-Garnett, ...) failed if the regional settings of your Windows configuration were set to use a decimal comma. In this case, the volume fraction was set to zero without warning. This error has been fixed.

If SCOUT cannot start because the passport file is write-protected, it gives a clear error message now.

November 2005

2005-11-21 / SCOUT 2.55: The import routine for xy-format used in the batch control window has been updated. It scans the file for valid lines, and takes pairs of x- and y-values only from valid data lines. All other lines like comments and headers are ignored.

The Actions submenu now has commands to start and stop a batch fit.

The editors for volume fractions in 'effective medium' objects (Bruggeman, Maxwell Garnett, ...) have been improved (more digits possible).

October 2005

2005-10-11 / SCOUT 2.52: Material objects can now export their optical constants in NanoCalc format.

September 2005

2005-9-19: SCOUT 2.51 supports 16-Bit spectrometers from Eta-Optik connected to a serial or USB port

2005-9-15: SCOUT 2.50 has some bugfixes and smaller improvements, for example

Print and page setup commands in the workbook and the batch control window

Print command in all lists

Fit parameters can now be displayed in a view. Parameters with a finite range of values are automatically displayed with a slider which can be used to graphically change the current value of the parameter.

New spectrometer type: 'File scan' reads a spectrum from a file in the network.This can be used to establish a simple spectrum transfer mechanism: A spectrometer system permanently writes the current spectrum to a temporary file, the SCOUT spectrometer object reads the file when the 'Acquire' command is activated.

New spectrometer type: Some Avantes spectrometers are now supported.

New spectrometer type: 'Double spectrometer' objects are used to merge spectra of two other spectrometer objects with small spectral ranges to a combined spectrum with a larger spectral range. Typical application: Merge the spectra of two array spectrometers in the visible and NIR to a single Vis/NIR spectrum.

New spectrometer type: A 'Virtual array spectrometer' can be used to simulate spectra with typical measurement errors like noise or drifts due to light source instability. Analyzing a large series of such spectra can give an impression of the variation of the fit parameter values due to measurement errors. This can be conveniently done using the batch control window and the new statistical analysis of the results (see below).

The batch control window now has a menu command (Actions|Statistics) to compute the average and the standard deviation of the fit parameters obtained in the batch fit.

The optical constants of materials in the database can be exported to simple text files. You can export the currently selected item or all items in one step.

Enhanced optical functions for retrieving results for spectrum objects: You can now compute average and integral values of spectral ranges, color coordinates and thickness values obtained by the FFT method.

Colorbox objects in the new list 'Special computations' compute the variation of colors of coatings for the case of fluctuating thickness values of the individual layers.

June 2005

2005-6-2: After some smaller bugfixes and new features we have arrived at object version 2.45. New features are, for example,

Import routines for Hitachi ASCII files and Woollam WVASE32 ASCII files

Re-arranged File|Options submenu

Some new or improved view objects (e.g. display text with multiple lines, display of colors improved)

Improved batch control window

Enhanced commands for presentations

November 2004

After long silence, here is SCOUT version 2.34:

More elegant layer stack definition

Layer stack definition windows now have 2 treeviews: One showing pre-defined layer stacks on the left side and one that displays available materials on the right. Just drag one of the items to the desired position in the layer stack and drop it there.

In the batch control window you can now start a fit for a single sample, including the pre-fit. The batch control window can be set to 'Always on top' in the program options. This can simplify interactive work involving the main window and the batch control. There are also options to synchronize the size and the position of the batch control window to the main window: With activated synchronization the batch control windows follows a re-sizing of the main window.

Every SCOUT program delivered to a customer has a licence identification which is displayed in the 'About ...' box. When you save a configuration the licence identification is stored.

Unfortunately, we were forced to introduce a hardware protection key (dongle) for SCOUT. We hope that our legal customers won't be disturbed too much by the small USB stick that keeps SCOUT running.

2004-11-18: Bugfix in SCOUT version 2.34: Unfortunately the content of the workbook and the batch control window was not loaded when you imported a configuration. This is fixed in version 2.35.

April 2004

SCOUT version 2.30:

Layer stack definition by OLE automation

You can now define layer stacks by OLE automation. There are commands to clear the list of fit parameters, clear layer stacks and the list of materials. The new commands add_layer_on_top and add_layer_definition_on_top are used to build up new layer stacks, using materials from the database.

New import filter: SCOUT now imports *.CSV files created by the HunterLab UltraScan spectrophotometer

March 2004

SCOUT version 2.29 has the following new features:

Flexible computation of incoherent superposition

For thick layers with incoherent superposition of partial waves the user can now control the way the individual terms are added: All waves can be superimposed (like it was done up to now), or individual terms can be added with individual weights. This way you can investigate separately the frontside or the backside reflection of a glass plate, for example. The experimental setups must match the settings for the simulated spectra, of course.

Graphics: Autoscale function and logarithmic plots improved

The autoscale function did not work properly in the past. It has been re-worked now and leads to reasonable axis scaling and unique tick marks. Logarithmic axis scaling has been improved as well.

February 2004

In SCOUT version 2.26, the following new features are implemented:

Colored lists

You can now assign colors to list objects like materials, susceptibilities, layer stacks or spectra. The consequent use of colors can make lists more readable, finding wanted objects intuitively. Whenever possible, the assigned colors are used to display object relations: Materials in layer stacks or susceptibilities in the fit parameter list will be drawn in their colors.

Layer stacks in views

Layer stacks can now be drawn in views. This is the first time that you can get a graphical presentation of a layer stack in SCOUT. This new feature should be quite useful writing reports about SCOUT methods. Since the handling of layer stack view objects is somewhat unusual you should read the new section about layer stack view objects in the help.

Shared layer stacks

You can now include a whole layer stack into the definition of another layer stack. This way you can easily describe identical coatings on various substrates. Up to now, these cases could only be handled with (more or less complicated) connections by master parameters.

January 2004

After a lot of smaller changes we have arrived at version 2.2 now:

Hardware support

SCOUT now directly supports spectrometers. Spectrometer objects are managed in the list of spectrometers. Each object can acquire a single or several spectra. Measured spectra can be assigned to the spectra in the spectra list. After the Acquire command each spectrometer records data which are then distributed to the spectrum objects.

The spectrometer settings are part of a SCOUT configuration. After a configuration is loaded all spectrometers are initialized and you can instantly start to acquire spectra.

View news

Some new objects like Polygon, Ellipse, Plateau, Background and Video view have been added. For some SCOUT actions (like acquire, next view, previous view, next configuration in presentations, ...) there are now view buttons which initialize the corresponding action when clicked.

The results in the batch control window can now be graphically displayed in views.

Spectrometer objects are accessible via corresponding View objects.

New action: Parameter animation

This action varies one parameter of the optical model and shows as a sequence of view pictures the response of the system. This mechanism is made for demonstrations, mostly in combination with illustrative views shown in SCOUT presentations.

SCOUT presentations

Views of several SCOUT configurations can be combined to presentations. A presentation is simply a sequence of SCOUT configurations. SCOUT will load one after the other and display the views in its main window. Since you are loading fully functional SCOUT configurations, you can demonstrate live slider motions, parameter fits, batch fits, parameter fluctuations and animations, ...

Various small changes and improvements

New layer type 'Thickness average' (like 'Variable thickness', but values specified in nm instead of microns)

New spectrum type 'Ellipsometry stack average' (like 'Layer mix' objects for reflectance and transmittance)

Compute spectra with finite resolution

Select for each spectrum individually, if it imports data when the global Import command is executed

Batch control command for adding many spectra in one action.

Batch control fits with individual start values for every sample

Access object information by so-called 'Optical functions'. Use these to create user-defined tables in the workbook or the batch control window.

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