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The University of Southampton

PHYS1004 Introduction to Photonics

Module Overview

After studying this course students should be able to: - Describe the interaction of light with atoms - Describe the interaction of light with solids (refractive index, non-linear optics) - Give basic descriptions of the operation and uses of lasers and optical fibres

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

The aim of this module is to provide a first introduction to photonics. Importantly, students should be motivated to expand their conceptual understanding into a mathematical description via courses in later years.

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • To be able to perform modest mathematical analysis of photonics-related problems
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Be aware of most of the important research areas of laser physics and modern optics.
Subject Specific Practical Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • To be able to carry out experimental investigations in the area of optics and lasers, and prepare sensible lab reports
Disciplinary Specific Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • To be able to describe the connections between physics and technology that underlies many areas of laser physics and optical telecommunications


1. Light and Optical properties of materials Photons and Light Optical Spectra of Atoms, Molecules, and Solids Derivation (simple) of Einstein A and B coefficients Refractive index, brief introduction to simple optics Polarization properties of light 2. The Laser Introduction to lasers Simple rate equation modelling of: saturation, gain, amplifiers, three-level laser (with some additional ideas on Fabry-Perot etalons added) Examples of types of lasers: HeNe, Nd:YAG, diode, Ti:Sapphire Practical examples of the uses of lasers 3. Optical Fibres and Waveguides Ray approach to fibre optics, extension to modes Propagation of light in fibres Applications, i.e. amplifiers, telecomm devices, etc. 4. Topics in Modern Optics Non-linear optics: explanation of refractive index in terms of atomic polarizability, non-linear optics as anharmonicity of atomic polarizability, Quasi Phase Matching

Learning and Teaching

Completion of assessment task39
Wider reading or practice27
Preparation for scheduled sessions18
Follow-up work18
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

R P Feynman (1990). The Strange Theory of Light & Matter. 

F L Pedrotti & L S Pedrotti (1992). Introduction to Optics. (P&P). 

E. Hecht (2001). Optics. 

Accompanying course notes will be available for students.. 

R P Feynman (1971). Lectures in Physics. 


Assessment Strategy

Referral Method By examination, the final mark will be calculated both with and without the coursework assessment mark carried forward, and the higher result taken


MethodPercentage contribution
In-class Test 25%
Laboratory 39%
Problem Sheets 36%


MethodPercentage contribution
Coursework marks carried forward %
Examination %


MethodPercentage contribution
Coursework marks carried forward %
Examination %

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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