Physics 320: OPTICS

Fall 2012

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General Information



Dr. Serkan Zorba


Science 105G


907-4200 Ext. 4450



Class meets

Mon, Wed 2:30-4:20 pm, SC 114 (Lab hours included).

Office hours

Tue: 11:00-12:30pm, Wed: 11:00-12:00pm, Thrs 11:00-12:30p.m


Introduction to Optics by Pedrotti&Pedrotti&Pedrotti, 3rd Edition, Prentice Hall. ISBN: 978-0131499331

Course description

Optical products are all around us: from laser printers and cell phones, to CDs and telecommunication fibers. This trend is to continue increasingly. Indeed, it is said that the 21st century will be photonics dominated.


Optics is the study of light, which we now know consists of a light “particle” called photon. In other words, optics is really the study of a single particle, photon. Now, that might strike you as a simple thing to do, but hear what Einstein said:

“Many physicists think they know what a photon is. I have spent a lifetime working on it but I still don’t know what a photon is.”


In this course, we will be learning about various aspects of light, and at the end of it, evaluate Einstein’s remarks. Particularly, we will study geometrical, physical, and quantum optics. Lasers will be especially a central part of this course: we will learn about their physics, and do experiments with them.


Out of the two weekly lectures, there will be one lecture  (mostly) on Mondays, and one lab session (mostly) on Thursdays. Homework assignments and conceptual surveys will be given regularly, so be abreast with the course material. There will be two midterms and a final examination. Experiments will be conducted in groups of 3 or 4. You will be required to write separate lab reports for the first three labs, and one single lab report for the whole group after that. The lab reports will be due exactly one week after the experiment has been performed. A crucial part of lab reports will be the error analysis. I will describe to you how you can do that. For other info and detailed grade scheme see below.


If you have a specific disability that qualifies you for academic accommodations, please contact Disability Services for letter of accommodation. 

Attendance policy

You cannot miss any lab without a valid excuse such as sickness or a family emergency. For the former you have to bring in a note from your doctor.


1st  Midterm: 20% (Oct 15, 2012)


2nd Midterm 20 % (Nov 19, 2012)


Homework: 20 %


Lab Reports (Error Analysis to be included): 10 %


Final: 30 % (Friday, Dec 14, 2012; 10:30-12:30pm)


Homework will be posted on the course website, and will be due in class a week after it is given. Homework solutions will be posted on the website right after the due date. No homework will be accepted after the class!

Topics to be


Geometrical Optics: Reflection, Refraction, Total Internal Reflection, Lenses

Physical Optics: Diffraction through Circular Apertures, Diffraction through Slits, Interference, Michelson-Morley Interferometer, Newton Rings, Polarization of Light, Birefringence, Abbe Theory of Imaging

Quantum Optics: Lasers, Coherence of Lasers


Course Learning Objectives:

At the end of the semester, the Phys 320 students will acquire the following knowledge and skills:

Familiarity with and facility in experimental technique. This entails learning how to:

(i) Follow written directions.

                  (ii) Analyze experimental results.

                  (iii) Design one's own experimental procedures.

                  (iv) Determine whether an experimental design is "good" or "bad".

                  (v) Use sophisticated equipment.

                  (vi) Construct apparatus.

Familiarity with and facility in the use of computers and modern computing techniques for:

                  (i) Analysis of data.

                  (ii) Numerical solution of problems.

                  (iii) Interfacing with experiments.






Weekly Schedule:




Week 1:

Nature of Light (Chapter 1)

No exp.

Week 2:

Geometrical Optics (Chapters 2)

Optional Reading: Optical Instrumentation (Chapter 3)

Laws of Geometrical Optics

Thin Lens Equation

Week 3:

Characteristics of Laser Beams

(Chapter 27)

Expanding Laser Beams


Week 4:

Interference of Light (Chapter 7)

Optional Reading: Wave Equations (Chapters 4), and Superposition of Waves (Chapter 5)

Double-Slit Interference

Single-Slit Diffraction


Week 5:

Fraunhofer Diffraction (Chapter 11)

Optional Reading: The Diffraction Grating (Chapter 12), and

Fresnel Diffraction (Chapter 13)

Diffraction of Circular Apertures

The Diffraction Grating


Week 6:

Optical Interferometry (Chapter 8)

The Michelson Interferometer

Week 7:

Properties of Lasers (Chapter 6)

EXAM 1 (Monday, Oct 15)

No exp.

Week 8:

Coherence (Chapter 9)

Optional Reading: Laser Operation (Chapter 26)

Laser and Coherence

Week 9:

Production of Polarized Light (Chp15) Matrix Treatment of Polarization(Chp14)

Polarization of Light

Week 10:

Nonlinear Optics and Modulation of Light (Chapter 24)

Optional Reading: Optical Properties of Materials (Chapter 25)

The Faraday Effect

Week 11:

Fourier Optics (Chapter 21)

The Abbe Theory of Imaging

Week 12:

Fiber Optics (Chapter 10)

EXAM 2 (Monday, Nov 19)

No exp.

Week 13:

Selected Modern App. (Chapter 28)

Fiber Optics and the Speed of Light

Additional Suggested Readings: Holography (Chapter 16)




1-) The Laws of Geometrical Optics

2-) Expanding Laser Beams

3-) Diffraction of Circular Apertures

4-) Single-Slit Diffraction and Double-Slit Interference

5-) The Michelson Interferometer

6-) Lasers and Coherence

7-) Polarization of Light

8-) Birefringes of Materials: Faraday Rotation

9-) The Abbe Theory of Imaging

10-) Fiber Optics and Speed of Light


Note: We will employ (mainly) a He-Ne laser (Class IIIa), and Nitrgen gas (Class IIIb) and (possibly) Dye lasers (Class IIIb) in this class.

Hence a portion of the class time will be devoted to the operation of lasers.