PHYC 302: Introduction to Photonics


Prof. F. Elohim Becerra
Office: P&A 1136
Phone: 505 277-2673

Teaching Assistant
Zhixiang Ren
Office: P&A 1132

Description of the class

This course provides an introduction to optics and its applications. It covers fundamental properties of light and its behavior in the presence of matter, and the analysis of simple optical elements and their applications. The course will address topics in fundamentals of electromagnetic theory, propagation of light, reflection, refraction, interference, diffraction, polarization, coherence, and geometrical and wave optics for the study of lenses and other optical systems. The course will provide mathematical development of these topics, and analyze different phenomena related to the properties of light.

Students in this course will learn the fundamental properties of light and will apply the mathematical description of these properties to examine the behavior of light and its interaction with matter, and analyze optical systems.

Pre-requisites: Calculus, Knowledge of Differential Equations, Complex Algebra; PHYC262.


Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 10:00-10:50, P&A Room 184


Textbook for the class:
Optics by Hecht (4th Edition). The course will cover Chapters 2-12, although we will not cover all the material in some chapters.

Additional resources
Introduction to Optics (3rd Edition): Frank L. Pedrotti Leno M. Pedrotti Leno S. Pedrotti.
Fundamentals of Photonics , 2nd Edition: E. A. Saleh, Malvin Carl Teich.

Homework Assignments

There will be regular assignments of problem sets taken from the textbook by E. Hecht, about one set per week, which also may contain additional exercises.
The assignments will be given throughout the semester, and will be posted in the Tentative Schedule about one week before they are due. Assignments are due at the beginning of the class. Make sure that you know how to solve the homework problems; you may not copy another student's work. No late work will be accepted.

Office hours

Office hours: Tuesday 9-11 am. You may also arrange a meeting for another time via email.
TA office hours: Wednesday 3-4 pm in the P&A lobby. You may also arrange a meeting for another time via email.


The final grade will be based on the homework assignments, two midterm exams and a final exam. The contribution to the final grade is as follows:

  1. Homework 20%
  2. Midterm exams: 25% each
  3. Final: 30%

Tentative Exam Dates (subject to change): September 26 and November 7. The final exam is currently scheduled for Friday, December 12 (time to be determined).
Last Day to Drop without Dean's permission: November 7.

Syllabus Topics

The course will be based on the textbook by E. Hecht. It will cover several topics in each chapter, however, not all of them. Below is a tentative list of topics that will be covered. You can find the calendar for the course in the Tentative Schedule.

  1. Introduction
  2. Waves
    - General properties of waves; harmonic waves; complex representation; wave superposition
  3. Electromagnetic Theory of Light
    - Basic electromagnetic laws; energy and momentum; irradiance and radiation; light and matter interaction; dispersion
  4. Propagation of Light
    - Fermat principle; Fresnel laws of reflection and refraction; reflectance and transmittance; total internal reflection; optical properties of metals
  5. Geometric Optics
    - Spherical surfaces; thin lenses; image formation; optical systems of two lenses; mirrors, prisms and stops; fiber optics; ray tracing; thick lenses; aberrations
  6. Optical Systems
    - Telescopes; microscopes
  7. Wave Optics
    - Superposition of waves; wave packet; group and phase velocity; harmonic and anharmonic waves; pulses
  8. Polarization of Light
    - Polarization; polarizers; birefringence; polarization by scattering and reflection; waveplates; optical modulators; Stokes parameters
  9. Interference
    - Principles; wavefront splitting interferometers; amplitude splitting interferometers; multiple beam interference and the Fabry-Perot interferometer; multilayer films
  10. Diffraction
    - Huygens-Fresnel principle; Fraunhofer diffraction; double and multi slit diffraction; implications for imaging systems; Fresnel diffraction
  11. Modern Optics
    - If time allows, we will discuss some special topics such as lasers, coherence, nonlinear optics

Additional resources

Class overview: Lecture 1

Introduction to Optics (3rd Edition): Frank L. Pedrotti Leno M. Pedrotti Leno S. Pedrotti.
Fundamentals of Photonics, 2nd Edition: E. A. Saleh, Malvin Carl Teich.

Tentative Schedule

Topic Date Subject Hecht Reading Homework HW Due Solutions
Waves 08/18 (M) Overview; General properties of waves Ch 2      
  08/20 (W) Complex representation and plane waves Ch 2 HW1 (F) Aug 29 HW1Sol
  08/22 (F) 3-D wave equation: 3-D waves Ch 2    
Electromagnetism 08/25 (M) Basic laws of Electromagnetism Ch 3      
  08/27 (W) Ch 3      
  08/29 (F) Energy and Momentum Ch 3 HW2 (M) Sep 8 HW2Sol
  09/1 (M) Labor Day (No class)        
  09/3 (W) Energy and Momentum Ch 3      
  09/5 (F) Light-Matter interaction Ch 3      
Propagation of Ligt 09/8 (M) Scattering and index of refraction Ch 3-4 HW3 (M) Sep 15 HW3Sol
  09/10 (W) Reflection and Refraction Ch 4      
  09/12 (F) Fresnel Equations Ch 4      
  09/15 (M) Ch 4 HW4 (W) Sep 24 HW4Sol
  09/17 (W) Reflectance, transmittance Ch 4      
  09/19 (F) Optical Properties of Metals Ch4      
  09/22 (M) Optical Properties of Metals Ch4      
Geometrical Optics 09/24 (W) Spherical Surfaces Ch5      
  09/26 (F) Midterm        
  09/29 (M) Thin lenses Ch5      
  10/01 (W) Image formation Ch5      
  10/03 (F) Ch5 HW5 (M) Oct 13 HW5Sol
  10/06 (M) Mirrors Ch5      
  10/08 (W) Optical Systems Ch5      
  10/10 (F) Fall Break        
  10/13 (M) Optical Systems Ch5      
  10/15 (W) Thick Lens Ch6 HW6 (W) Oct 22 HW6Sol
  10/17 (F) 〃 and aberrations Ch6      
Superposition of Waves 10/20 (M) Waves with the same frequency Ch7      
  10/22 (W) Ch7      
  10/24 (F) Waves with the different frequencies Ch7 HW7 (F) Oct 31 HW7Sol
  10/27 (M) Group Velocity and Periodic Waves Ch7      
  10/29 (W) Non-periodic Waves Ch7      
  10/31 (F) Ch7      
  11/3 (M) Pulses and wave packets Ch7      
  11/5 (W)        
  11/7 (F) Midterm 2 guidelines Ch5-7      
Polarization 11/10 (M) Polarization of Light Ch8      
  11/12 (W) Generation of polarized light Ch8      
  11/14 (F) Birefringence and phase retarders Ch8 HW8 (F) Nov 21 HW8Sol
Interference 11/17 (M) Interference Ch9      
  11/19 (W) Interferometry Ch9      
  11/21 (F) Ch9 HW9 (M) Dec 1 HW9Sol
  11/24 (M) Ch9      
Modern Optics, the Laser 11/26 (W) Modern Optics and Physics Ch13      
  11/28 (F) Thanks Givving (No Class)        
  12/1 (M) Einstein Coefficients the Laser Ch13      
  12/3 (W) Lasers Ch13      
  12/5 (F) Lab Tours (starts 10 am)        
Finals Week            
  12/12 (F) Final (Comprehensive) scheduled for 7:30-9:30 am