Physics 546: Lasers

This course is an introduction to the physics of lasers, and applications of lasers to science and technology.

Topics covered include:

  • Principles of laser operation
  • Laser oscillation conditions
  • Optical resonators
  • Different types of lasers (in particular semiconductor lasers)
  • Gaussian beam propagation
  • Optical fibers
  • Frequency doubling
  • Detectors are also studied
  • Methods of laser spectroscopy.
  •   This course is primarily aimed at advanced undergraduate and graduate students who are using or anticipate using lasers in a research environment. Emphasis is placed on obtaining a strong physical understanding of the principles of lasers and their applications.


    The assumed mathematical background for the course is calculus with a bit of differential equations and matrix algebra.


    Some familiarity with electromagnetic fields is assumed, though much of what is needed will be reviewed in the course. Also some acquaintance with the basic structure of atoms and molecules is helpful, although again most of the needed material will be reviewed. A basic understanding of quantum mechanics is assumed, being necessary to understand the interaction between laser light and various types of materials.


    Typical texts used for this course include Yariv's Quantum Electronics and Principles of Photonics by Saleh and Teich.


    Coursework typically includes:
  • Homework assignments
  • Two hour exams
  • A research paper

    Recent instructors

    Lawler, Anderson, Walker
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