PHYSICS 7540 - Optics and Photonics

North Terrace Campus - Semester 2 - 2022

This course provides students with a working knowledge of optics and photonics, including wave optics, physical optics and introductory laser physics. It also provides a basis for further study in photonics. Wave optics content: solutions of the wave equation, including Hermite-Gaussian laser modes, optical cavities, Fresnel and Fraunhofer diffraction integrals; Fourier optics; Array Theorem; amplitude and phase spatial filtering. Physical optics content: Fresnel equations; Lorentz electron oscillator model & dispersion, polarisation, birefringence and applications; optical activity; Faraday effect. Laser physics content: laser resonators; Einstein coefficients; stimulated amplification of light; laser oscillators; mode control; overview of some real lasers.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code PHYSICS 7540
    Course Optics and Photonics
    Coordinating Unit School of Physical Sciences
    Term Semester 2
    Level Postgraduate Coursework
    Location/s North Terrace Campus
    Units 3
    Contact Up to 5 hours per week
    Available for Study Abroad and Exchange Y
    Prerequisites Sufficient Physics and Mathematics knowledge equivalent to 'Assumed Knowledge'
    Incompatible PHYSICS 3230, PHYSICS 3001, PHYSICS 3540
    Assumed Knowledge PHYSICS 2520 or PHYSICS 2525, PHYSICS 3542, MATHS 2101 or MATHS 2201, MATHS 2102 or MATHS 2202 or equivalent
    Assessment Tests, practical work, written exam
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Professor Peter Veitch

    Course Timetable

    The full timetable of all activities for this course can be accessed from Course Planner.

  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes

    On completion of this course, students should be able to:

    1. define and explain the propagation of light in conducting and non-conducting media;
    2. define and explain the physics governing laser behaviour and light matter interaction;
    3. apply wave optics and diffraction theory to a range of problems;
    4. apply the principles of atomic physics to materials used in optics and photonics;
    5. calculate the properties of various lasers and the propagation of laser beams;
    6. calculate properties of and design modern optical fibres and photonic crystals;
    7. use the tools, methodologies, language and conventions of physics to test and communicate ideas and explanations;
    8. integrate several components of the course in the context of a new situation (unique to postgraduate coursework).
    University Graduate Attributes

    This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attribute(s) specified below:

    University Graduate Attribute Course Learning Outcome(s)

    Attribute 1: Deep discipline knowledge and intellectual breadth

    Graduates have comprehensive knowledge and understanding of their subject area, the ability to engage with different traditions of thought, and the ability to apply their knowledge in practice including in multi-disciplinary or multi-professional contexts.


    Attribute 2: Creative and critical thinking, and problem solving

    Graduates are effective problems-solvers, able to apply critical, creative and evidence-based thinking to conceive innovative responses to future challenges.


    Attribute 8: Self-awareness and emotional intelligence

    Graduates are self-aware and reflective; they are flexible and resilient and have the capacity to accept and give constructive feedback; they act with integrity and take responsibility for their actions.

  • Learning Resources
    Recommended Resources

    This course requires the following texts and other resources:


    -         Not applicable


    -         Buck, J.A., Fundamentals of Optical Fibres, John Wiley & Son, 2004

    -         Joannopoulos, J. D. et al., Photonic Crystals: Moulding the Flow of Light, Princeton Univ. Press, 1995

    -         Johnson S. G. and Joannopoulos, J. D., Photonic Crystals: The Road from Theory to Practice, Kluwer, 2002

    -         Hawker & Latimer: Lasers, Theory and Practice, Prentice Hall, 1995.

    -         Verdeyen J., Laser Electronics, 3rd edition, Prentice Hall, 1995

    -         Yariv, A.: Optical Electronics, Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 4th edition, 1991

    -         Saleh & Teich: Photonics

    -         Guenther, R., Modern Optics

    -         Goodman, J.W., Introduction to Fourier Optics

    -         Hecht, E., Optics

    -         Pedrotti F.L., and Pedrotti, L.S., Introduction to Optics (the Photonics II text)

    -         Siegman, A.E., Lasers

    -         Yariv, A., Optical Electronics

    -         Born M., and Wolf, E., Principles of Optics
  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes

    This course is delivered by the following means:


    -         3 Lectures of 1 hour each per week

    -         1 Tutorial of 1 hour per week

    The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.

    A student enrolled in a 3 unit course, such as this, should expect to spend, on average 12 hours per week on the studies required. This includes both the formal contact time required to the course (e.g., lectures and practicals), as well as non-contact time (e.g., reading and revision).
    Learning Activities Summary

    The course content includes the following:

    Wave Optics (12 lectures)

    -         Techniques for solving the wave equation: Hermite-Gaussian solution, integral methods

    -         Fraunhofer diffraction

    -         Fourier optics

    -         Abbe’s theory of imaging

    -         Amplitude spatial filtering

    -         Phase spatial filtering

    -         Babinet’s principle

    Spectroscopy (6 lectures)

    -         Energy levels of atoms and molecules

    -         Fine hyperfire structure

    -         Radiative transitions

    -         Spectroscopic techniques

    Laser Physics (12 lectures)

    -         Quantum mechanical description of the interaction of light with matter.

    -         Spontaneous and stimulated emission.

    -         Rate equation, saturation, broadening, amplifiers, oscillators.

    -         Review of Gaussian beams:

    -         Laser resonators and laser beam propagation.

    -         Pulsed Lasers:

    -         Q-switching, relaxation oscillation, mode locking.

    -         Review of common lasers,

    Optical Fibres & Photonic crystals (6 lectures)

    -         Step index, graded index and Microstructured optical fibres

    -         Fibre Bragg Gratings, Fibre Sensors

    Fundamentals of Photonic crystals, band diagrams, defect states
  • Assessment

    The University's policy on Assessment for Coursework Programs is based on the following four principles:

    1. Assessment must encourage and reinforce learning.
    2. Assessment must enable robust and fair judgements about student performance.
    3. Assessment practices must be fair and equitable to students and give them the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned.
    4. Assessment must maintain academic standards.

    Assessment Summary

    Assessment task

    Type of assessment

    Percentage of total   assessment for grading purposes #



    Yes or No #

    Outcomes being   assessed / achieved

    Projects/Assignments   & Tests

    Formative   & Summative



    1 – 8

    Written   Examination




    1 – 8

    Assessment Detail

    Description of Assessment:

    While this course is offered concurrently to undergraduate students, all postgraduate students are expected to perform at a higher level both qualitatively and quantitatively. To facilitate this, postgraduate students are required to address additional content in the assignments/tests and the examination within the same timeframe as undergraduate students.

    Projects, Assignments and Tests: (40% of total course grade)

    The standard assessment consists of 2 projects/assignments and 2 tests. This may be varied by negotiation with students at the start of the semester. This combination of projects, tests and summative assignments is used during the semester to address understanding of and ability to use the course material and to provide students with a benchmark for their progress in the course.

    Postgraduate students are required to complete additional assessment tasks within each project/assignment to demonstrate additional understanding of the course material, in particular the ability to integrate different course components in a novel context.

    Written Examination: (60% of total course grade)

    One 3 hour exam is used to assess the understanding of and ability to use the material. Within the 3 hours, postgraduate students are required to answer additional question(s) in comparison to the undergraduate exam.

    Final result

    For each student, the result is determined by combining the components Projects/Assignments, Tests and Written Exam using each of the possible weightings:

    -         20%(Projects/Assignments) + 20%(Tests) + 60%(Exam)

    -         20%(Projects/Assignments) + 5%(Tests) + 75%(Exam)

    -         5%(Projects/Assignments) + 20%(Tests) + 75%(Exam)

    The Final Result is the maximum of these calculated values.

    If an extension is not applied for, or not granted then a penalty for late submission will apply.  A penalty of 10% of the value of the assignment for each calendar day that the assignment is late (i.e. weekends count as 2 days), up to a maximum of 50% of the available marks will be applied. This means that an assignment that is 5 days late or more without an approved extension can only receive a maximum of 50% of the marks available for that assignment.

    Course Grading

    Grades for your performance in this course will be awarded in accordance with the following scheme:

    M10 (Coursework Mark Scheme)
    Grade Mark Description
    FNS   Fail No Submission
    F 1-49 Fail
    P 50-64 Pass
    C 65-74 Credit
    D 75-84 Distinction
    HD 85-100 High Distinction
    CN   Continuing
    NFE   No Formal Examination
    RP   Result Pending

    Further details of the grades/results can be obtained from Examinations.

    Grade Descriptors are available which provide a general guide to the standard of work that is expected at each grade level. More information at Assessment for Coursework Programs.

    Final results for this course will be made available through Access Adelaide.

  • Student Feedback

    The University places a high priority on approaches to learning and teaching that enhance the student experience. Feedback is sought from students in a variety of ways including on-going engagement with staff, the use of online discussion boards and the use of Student Experience of Learning and Teaching (SELT) surveys as well as GOS surveys and Program reviews.

    SELTs are an important source of information to inform individual teaching practice, decisions about teaching duties, and course and program curriculum design. They enable the University to assess how effectively its learning environments and teaching practices facilitate student engagement and learning outcomes. Under the current SELT Policy ( course SELTs are mandated and must be conducted at the conclusion of each term/semester/trimester for every course offering. Feedback on issues raised through course SELT surveys is made available to enrolled students through various resources (e.g. MyUni). In addition aggregated course SELT data is available.

  • Student Support
  • Policies & Guidelines
  • Fraud Awareness

    Students are reminded that in order to maintain the academic integrity of all programs and courses, the university has a zero-tolerance approach to students offering money or significant value goods or services to any staff member who is involved in their teaching or assessment. Students offering lecturers or tutors or professional staff anything more than a small token of appreciation is totally unacceptable, in any circumstances. Staff members are obliged to report all such incidents to their supervisor/manager, who will refer them for action under the university's student’s disciplinary procedures.

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