Optics and Photonics I module (PH41005)

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Together, optics and photonics form a broad and interdisciplinary field that encompasses the study of light and its interactions with matter and the development of new technologies that use light to create, transmit, and process information. 

In this module, you will gain a solid grounding in the core of contemporary optics and photonic systems, including laser physics, polarisation, diffraction, and interference. You will cover the optics knowledge expected of a physics graduate and lay the foundation for more advanced study. 

On completing this module, you will be able to discuss the different descriptions of light, with reference to their historical derivation and the appropriate circumstances in which each is applicable. You will be able to describe geometrical optical systems using matrix techniques and solve problems using these allowing you to design simple optical and laser systems. 

Topics include: 

  • The nature of light: wave, ray and photon descriptions  

  • Matrix description of geometrical optics  

  • Electromagnetic waves as applied to optics: phase and group velocity, Fresnel equations, total internal reflection, evanescent waves, radiation pressure  

  • Optical polarisation: linear, circular, elliptical polarisation, polarisers, waveplates, optical activity, birefringence, Jones matrix and complex number representation of polarised light  

  • Diffraction: Fresnel and Fraunhofer descriptions, Fourier Transform techniques, diffraction gratings  

  • Interference: Michelson and Fabry Perot interferometers  

  • Lasers: Einstein coefficients, gain, requirements for population inversion, gain threshold, cavity design, laser types, Gaussian beams.