COMSOL Desktop® Updates

For all COMSOL Multiphysics® software users, version 5.5 brings improved select box functionality, a context menu in the Graphics window, and new Graphics window toolbar options. Read more about these and other COMSOL Desktop® updates below.

Select Box and Zoom Box

You can now use the Select Box, Deselect Box, and Zoom Box operations multiple times in a row by using a new option to keep these enabled, eliminating the need to click the button again after each use. Also, in addition to selecting entities contained in the rubber band box, you can now choose to select entities intersecting the box.

Use the Select Box feature with the new option Entity Intersects to more easily select all vertical boundaries in a model and use the Keep Enabled After Use option to zoom, select, or deselect multiple times in quick succession.

Idle Time-Out of Licenses

By configuring the license manager, for a floating network license, you can now choose to automatically release licenses when the software is idle. This means, for example, that if a user forgets to close a COMSOL Multiphysics® session when leaving the office for the day, the license manager identifies that the license is idle, releases it, and makes it possible for someone else to use that license. By default, licenses are never released when the software is idle. The license manager can be configured to time out between 15 minutes to 2 hours.

Graphics Window Improvements

The Graphics window now supports a new way of selecting boundary conditions and other physics options. By right-clicking and choosing from a context menu, this new method simplifies selections and is available alongside the already available selection method.

Right-clicking in the Graphics window of COMSOL Multiphysics version 5.5 presents a menu for adding boundary conditions to a selection. Add boundary conditions to a selection by right-clicking in the Graphics window. In this case, an Inlet is added to the highlighted boundary in the micromixer model.

You can now control how to display buttons in the Graphics window toolbar. You can configure to display toolbar items that you frequently use at the top level, and place less common items in drop-down menus. There are four options to choose from: Normal, Compact, Wide, and Hidden.

The Graphics window with the toolbar buttons displayed as compact and a busbar model geometry as the example. Graphics toolbar with all groups set to compact.
The Graphics window with the toolbar buttons displayed as wide and a busbar model geometry as the example. Graphics toolbar with all groups set to wide.

Improved Advanced Options

A new Advanced Options dialog window makes it easier to activate advanced functionality in the software, such as Equation View or Advanced Physics Options. Each option comes with a description and information about which nodes in the tree are affected by that setting.

Extended Support for Copy-Paste Between Different Models

The number of nodes that you can copy and paste between different models, for example in different COMSOL® sessions, has been extended to include:

  • Functions
  • Materials
  • Definitions
    • Moving mesh nodes
    • Deformed geometry nodes
    • Optimization nodes
  • Multiphysics nodes
  • Plot groups and Plots
  • Derived values
  • Export nodes

Pasting to another model always does so on a best-effort principle, ignoring invalid settings. In a plot group for example, the available settings depend on the available datasets and solutions.

Add-Ins to COMSOL Multiphysics®

Model methods, introduced in version 5.3, enable you to perform complex operations directly on the model you are working on, such as setting up geometry sequences from data in a text file, changing solver settings based on specific criteria, or creating template plot groups. With version 5.5, you can define these methods as Add-Ins and save them as separate MPH-files. Add-ins can also include Application Builder forms, allowing you to create your own Model Builder tree nodes with associated Settings windows, as well as standalone dialog boxes. Both support custom-made user interfaces. By saving these model methods and forms as individual files, you are able to add them into any MPH-file that you are working on.

Add-ins can be created in the Application Builder, available in the version for the Windows® operating system, but can be accessed on all platforms, including macOS and the Linux® operating system.

A mountain bike fork model is split in half using the Planar Cut add-in in COMSOL Multiphysics version 5.5 and the original geometry is shown next to the updated geometry. The Planar Cut add-in can be used in any COMSOL Multiphysics® model to remove half of a symmetric geometry, by adding and running multiple geometry operations.

Preview in the Application Libraries

As of COMSOL Multiphysics® version 5.5, the MPH-files in the Application Libraries can have three states: solved MPH-files, compact MPH-files, or preview MPH-files. Previous versions only had the solved and compact options. The new preview option makes additional examples available in the Application Libraries that otherwise would not fit, memory-wise, in the downloaded installation image. Many of these examples were previously only available online in the Application Gallery.

The preview MPH-files are available in the Application Libraries with a short description, thumbnail image, and information about which products and physics interfaces are used, as well as the expected computation time. These appear in the Application Libraries window with an icon that is a dashed circle. Solved and compact versions are available for download. Model documentation will be directly available if you have specified the use of online help (see the Reference Manual for details on how to do this). Otherwise, they will be included when downloading. During installation, you get the option to store all examples in the Application Libraries as a preview, which will save disk space.

For comparison, a solved MPH-file includes documentation as well as all meshes and solutions, whereas a compact MPH-file contains all settings and documentation for the model, but without built meshes and solution data to save space in the installation. Just like solved and compact MPH-files, the preview MPH-files are indexed to make searches in the Application Libraries easier.



Miscellaneous Additions

New Built-In Mathematical Functions

The following new functions are available:

  • binomial(n,k) — binomial coefficients
  • factorial(n) — factorial of nonnegative integer
  • legendre(l,x) and legendre(l,m,x) — Legendre polynomials and associated Legendre functions
  • zernike(n,m,r,phi) — Zernike polynomials
  • sphericaly(l, m, theta, phi) and sphericalyr(l, m, theta, phi) — spherical harmonic and real spherical harmonic functions, respectively

New Variable Utilities

A set of new Variable Utilities are available under Global Definitions and Component Definitions. To access Variable Utilities, select the corresponding check box in the Show More Options dialog box (available in the Model Builder toolbar).

The new Variable Utilities are:

  • Vector Transform
    • For transforming a vector of component expressions from one coordinate system to another
  • Matrix Transform
    • For transforming rows or columns of a matrix of component expressions from one coordinate system to another
  • State Variables
    • For defining dependent variables that are updated using an update expression before or after each completed solver step
  • Expression Operator
    • For defining an operator that evaluates to arbitrary parameterized expressions on specified selections
    • You can also add Operator Contribution subnodes to an Expression Operator node


New Operators

A new operator, stddev, is available for computing the standard deviation, using an integration or summation operator as its first input argument. Additionally, new operators are available for computing time derivatives in different frames, frame.dt(), where "frame" is one of the following: spatial, material, geometry, or mesh.


New Units
  • The ounce
    • As oz and ounce, equal to 1/16 pound (0.028349523 kg)
  • The fluid ounce
    • As fl_oz and fluid_ounce, equal to 1/160 imperial gallon (2.8413063·10-5 m3)
  • The rayleigh, used for measures of specific acoustic impedance
    • As rayl and rayleigh (SI version, equal to 1 Pa·s/m)
    • As rayl_cgs and rayleigh_cgs (CGS version, equal to 10 Pa·s/m)

New Coordinate System Options

3D rotated system coordinate systems are now also available in 2D so that you define general rotations using 3D Euler angle inputs.

Material Functionality Updates

In the Material Browser, you can now reload material libraries by right-clicking a material library node and choosing Reload Selected. For external material functions, there are new reserved return values: the return value -1 is now interpreted as a normal exit with a warning message; the return value -2 is interpreted as a normal exit with a log message. Both values previously indicated an unspecified error condition. Also, you can now add two new electromagnetic options: general H(B) relation and the general B(H) relation.