Rising Stars 2020:

Mengqi (Mandy) Xia

PhD Candidate

Cornell University

Areas of Interest

  • Graphics


A Wave Optics Based Fiber Scattering Model


Existing fiber scattering models in rendering are all based on tracing rays through fiber geometry, but for small fibers diffraction and interference are non-negligible, so relying on ray optics can result in appearance errors. This paper presents the first wave optics based fiber scattering model, introducing an azimuthal scattering function that comes from a full wave simulation. Solving Maxwell's equations for a straight fiber of constant cross section illuminated by a plane wave reduces to solving for a 3D electromagnetic field in a 2D domain, and our fiber scattering simulator solves this 2.5D problem efficiently using the boundary element method (BEM). From the resulting fields we compute extinction, absorption, and far-field scattering distributions, which we use to simulate shadowing and scattering by fibers in a path tracer. We validate our path tracer against the wave simulation and the simulation against a measurement of diffraction from a single textile fiber. Our results show that our approach can reproduce a wide range of fibers with different sizes, cross sections, and material properties, including textile fibers, animal fur, and human hair. The renderings include color effects, softening of sharp features, and strong forward scattering that are not predicted by traditional ray-based models, though the two approaches produce similar appearance for complex fiber assemblies under many conditions.


Mandy Xia is a PhD candidate in computer science at Cornell University where she is advised by Steve Marschner. She works on physically-based rendering and studies how light interacts with complex materials. She received her bachelor's degree in Applied Mathematics from University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) in 2016 with Summa Cum Laude.

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