325: Wave Motion and Optics

This course involves study of wave motion with particular application to optics.

The topics covered are:

  • Wave phenomenon (Wave equation, Review of E&M, Electromagnetic waves)
  • Sources of EM waves (Dipole radiation, Black body radiation, Stimulated emission, Lasers)
  • Propagation of EM waves (Scattering, Reflection, Refraction, Interaction of light and matter, Stokes treatment)
  • Geometrical Optics (Thin and Thick Lenses, Mirrors, Prisms, Fiber optics, Optical systems, Abberations)
  • Wave nature of light (Superposition, Polarization, Interference, Diffraction)
  • Fourier Optics (Introduction, optical applications)
  • Coherence (Introduction, mutual coherence function, applications)
  • Modern Optics (Imaging, Holography, nonlinear optics)


Physics 311 and 321. This course involves study of wave phenomena with specific applications to waves in media and electromagnetic phenomena. Wave equations, propagation, radiation, coherence, interference, diffraction, scattering. Light and its interactions with matter, geometrical and physical optics are covered. This class provides not only an excellent ground work for further studies in modern physics, but also helps those interested in applications of optical technology. 

Typical Texts

Optics, E. Hecht, Third Edition, Addison-Wesley-Longman. Introduction to Optics, Pedrotti and Pedrotti, Second Edition, Prentice-Hall  : 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.

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