PHYS 425: Modern Optics and Photonics (Spring 2012)

Instructor: Daniel A. Steck
Office: 277 Willamette      Phone: 346-5313      email:
Office hours: walk-in and by appointment
Student Co-Teacher: Jonathan Mackrory      email:
Course home page:

Schedule: MWF 9:00-9:50, 318 Willamette
Course reference number: 37054
Credits: 4
Prerequisites: PHYS 424

Links: news, course notes, homework sets and keys.

Course overview

This course will provide a broad overview of Fourier optics, light-atom interactions, laser physics, and other topics in modern optics. See the tentative syllabus below for a preliminary list of topics we will cover.

Texts: There is no required textbook for this course. Course notes will be posted on this site as the term progresses; they may be downloaded all at once here, but this document may be updated during the course.

There are many other excellent standard optics texts that you may find useful for this course, such as:


Grades for the course will be based on homework, two mid-term exams, and a final exam. The relative weights will be as follows:

Homework: this is a homework-intensive course. Homework will be assigned weekly and each assignment will be due in class one week after it is assigned. Thereafter, late homework will be accepted, but at a 25% penalty for each 24 hour period it is turned in late. Partial assignments may be turned in, and only the late portion will be penalized. The relative contribution of each homework assignment to the final grade will depend on its difficulty.

Mid-term exam 1: in class, Wednesday, 25 April. If possible, I would like to reschedule this exam for an evening to reduce time pressure.

Mid-term exam 2: in class, Wednesday, 23 May. If possible, I would like to reschedule this exam for an evening to reduce time pressure.

Final exam: The final exam will be held Tuesday, 12 June, 10:15-12:15, in 318 Willamette.

Pass/fail grading option: a passing grade requires the equivalent of a C- grade on all coursework (homework and final).

Computer access

Some of the homework will require access to a computer for basic calculations (in low-level languages such as C or Fortran, or any of several higher-level packages such as Mathematica, Maple, Matlab, Octave, Mathcad, etc.) and basic plotting (e.g., GNUplot, Excel, etc.). I will use Mathematica for examples because of its availability at UO, but it is not necessarily the best choice for any particular problem. Contact the instructor as soon as possible if you do not already have access to such resources.


Monday Wednesday Friday
2 April
Fresnel Relations: Internal Reflection
4 April
Fresnel Relations: Conductors
6 April
Thin Films: Reflection Model
9 April
Thin Films: Matrix Formalism
11 April
Thin Films: Coating Design
13 April
Fourier Analysis II: Convolution, Green's Functions
16 April
Fourier Analysis II: Convolution, Green's Functions
18 April
Fourier Optics: Wave Propagation
20 April
Fourier Optics: Fraunhofer Diffraction
23 April
Fourier Optics: Fresnel Diffraction
25 April
Midterm Exam 1
(evening 26 April)
27 April
Fourier Optics: Spatial Filtering
30 April
Fourier Optics: Holography
2 May
Statistical Optics: Coherence
4 May
Statistical Optics: Interference and Visibility
7 May
Laser Physics: Overview
9 May
Laser Physics: Gain Saturation
11 May
Laser Physics: Light-Atom Interactions
14 May
Laser Physics: Optical Gain and Pumping Schemes
16 May
Laser Physics: Output Characteristics
travel to Exp. Chaos Conf., class rescheduled for 23 May, 9 am
18 May
Atom Optics: Light Shifts and Optical Forces
travel to Exp. Chaos Conf., class rescheduled for Thurs. 31 May, 9 am
21 May
Atom Optics: Atom-Photon interactions
23 May
Midterm Exam 2
(evening 24 May)
25 May
Atom Optics: Laser Cooling and Trapping
28 May
No Class: Memorial Day
30 May
Fiber Optics: Mode Analysis
1 June
Fiber Optics: Loss and Dispersion
4 June
Photonic Bandgap Crystals: Kronig-Penney Model
travel to DAMOP, class rescheduled for Tues. 29 May, 9 am
6 June
Photonic Bandgap Crystals: Fabrication and Performance
travel to DAMOP, class rescheduled for Thurs. 31 May, 5 pm
8 June
travel to DAMOP, class rescheduled for Mon. 11 June, time TBA

Other important dates:
Last day to drop without a W: 9 April
Last day to register: 11 April
Last day to withdraw: 20 May