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Department of Physics
Undergraduate Students

625: Applied Optics

Course Overview
This course is intended to provide a practical introduction to basic optical techniques and phenomena encountered by scientists using optics as a tool for research.  It is offered for 3 credits for the lecture and an optional 1 credit for the laboratory.  The laboratory is strongly recommended.  No optics background is assumed, but the course moves fast and students who have not taken an introductory optics course such as 325 may expect to do some extra work.  The mathematical level assumed is calculus and basic differential equations; some simple matrix algebra is also used.  Traditionally the course has been taught using an extensive set of notes developed by UW faculty,  but in recent years some texts have been used on an experimental basis.  An example is Fundamentals of Photonics, by Saleh and Teich.  Students who take the course also find Hecht's popular undergraduate text Optics to be very helpful.

Practical optics as used by scientists in a research setting.

Topics typically covered in the lecture are:

  • Geometrical Optics
    • Thin/Thick Lenses; Apertures & Stops; Instruments; Etendue
  • Interferometry
    • Polarization
    • Schlieren
    • 2-beam interferometers
    • Thin Films
    • Fabry-Perots
    • Temporal Coherence
    • Correlation Spectroscopy
  • Diffraction and Fourier Optics
    • Gratings
    • Spectrometers
    • Gaussian Beams
    • Holography
    • Spatial Coherence
  • Optical Fibers
    • Ray theory
    • Waveguides
    • Coupling
    • Devices
  • Lasers
    • Cavities
    • Tunable
    • Semiconductors
    • External Cavity
    • Spectroscopy
    • Modulators
  • Non-linear Optics
    • Frequency doubling
    • Phase Conjugation
    • Mixing
    • Mode-locking
    • Optical Comb Generation
  • Basics of Quantum Optics
    • Noise
    • Atom/Light Interactions

The well-equipped laboratory portion of the course emphasizes classic practical optical techniques and instruments. 

Experiments include

  • Thin and Thick lenses
  • Spherical Mirror Aberrations
  • Etendue
  • Schlieren
  • Michelson Interferometer
  • Fabry-Perot Spectroscopy
  • Diffraction Grating Spectroscopy
  • Fourier Transform Spectroscopy
  • Fourier Image Processing
  • Frequency Doubling
  • Holography

3 semesters of introductory physics or consent of instructor.

325 vs. 625: Which to take?

325 is an introduction to wave motion and optics at the intermediate level, and emphasizes physical principles as opposed to practical applications.  It moves at a slower pace than 625.

325 is taken by physics undergraduates and some graduate students from other departments.  Laboratory experiments that go along with 325 are done in 308.

625 is a more difficult, advanced course that covers the basics quickly and proceeds to applications.  The integrated laboratory is designed to provide excellent training for students using classical optics in their research. 

625 is taken by a few physics undergraduates, physics graduate students, and graduate students from other departments around the university including chemistry, engineering (mechanical, electrical, chemical), and CALS.

It is expected that most undergraduates will take 325.


Last updated: 2/18/2007
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