The University of Southampton

PHYS3003 Light and Matter

Module Overview

The course provides an introduction to modern optical physics to arm students with a basic knowledge of light-matter interactions, electro-optics and nonlinear optics. It aims to provide a fundamental base for understanding the techniques and technologies of photonics and experimental quantum optics, while also drawing together and developing many more basic and beautiful aspects of physics.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

After studying this course students should have a basic knowledge of how light interacts with matter and be able to construct models based on classical and quantum physics in order to predict the susceptibility of a material system.

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

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

  • polarization and vector properties of light
  • elementary classical and quantum mechanical microscopic models of the light-matter interaction process
  • light propagation in isotropic, anisotropic and nonlinear media crystal optics, metal optics, and polarizing devices
  • electro- and magneto-optical effects and devices
  • major phenomena of nonlinear optics such as harmonic generation


The Maxwell and wave equations in media; forced oscillation and resonant optical response; the Lorentz dispersion theory; causality and the Kramers-Kronig relations. Light as a vector field; polarized and unpolarized light; Jones vectors, Stokes parameters and Müller matrices; the energy, momentum and angular momentum of an electromagnetic wave Introduction to quantum optics and the two state atom approximation using Dirac notation; Rabi oscillations Controlling light with matter: plane waves in an anisotropic crystal; birefringence, optical activity and polarizing devices Controlling light with electric and magnetic fields, the electro-optical Pockels and Kerr effects, the magneto-optical Faraday effect Controlling light with light: nonlinear optical response of a forced molecular oscillator; basic nonlinear optical phenomena; harmonic generation.

Learning and Teaching

Completion of assessment task2
Follow-up work18
Preparation for scheduled sessions18
Wider reading or practice66
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

E. Hecht (2001). Optics. 

Richard Feynman. Lectures in Physics Vol. 2. 

Mark Fox (2006). Quantum Optics. 

O Svelto (1998). Principles of Lasers. 



MethodPercentage contribution
Exam  (2 hours) 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Exam 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

Linked modules

Pre-requisites: PHYS2006 Classical Mechanics 2016-17, PHYS2001 Electromagnetism 2016-17, PHYS2003 Quantum Physics 2016-17, PHYS2024 Quantum Physics Of Matter 2016-17, PHYS2023 Wave Physics 2016-17

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