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The University of Southampton

PHYS6024 Lasers

Module Overview

Lasers and photonic techniques are used in all branches of science and technology. The principles of laser operation will be discussed, with reference to commonly used laser systems. The course provides knowledge of the laser as a fundamental tool of contemporary science and technology. The course will give a detailed and mathematical introduction to gain media, laser cavities, Gaussian beams, and their combination into many forms of laser.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

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

  • Perform quantitative calculations on the properties of cavities, beams, and gain media, and the output of simple laser systems.
  • Discuss the differences between continuous & pulsed laser systems, and the uses of both.
  • Understand how the design of a laser and the choice of the gain medium affects its output characteristics.
  • Assess the properties of new laser systems based on a knowledge of their design.
  • Appreciate the diversity of laser designs and applications.


- Properties of coherent light: temporal and spatial coherence, beam propagation - Interaction of light and matter: spontaneous & stimulated emission, cross-sections & rate equations - Gaussian beam optics, optical resonators, cavity stability - Generation of coherent light: energy storage, resonator modes, laser threshold - Laser dynamics: steady state and transient behaviour, relaxation oscillations, Q-switching, mode locking - Practical laser systems: HeNe, Nd:YAG, Ti:sapphire, diodes, fibre lasers - Narrow line width lasers - Ultra fast lasers, properties of ultra fast pulses, X-ray and attosecond pulses

Learning and Teaching

Completion of assessment task123
Wider reading or practice27
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Anthony E Siegman (31533). Lasers. 

Eugene Hecht. Optics. 

William T Silfvast. Laser Fundamentals. 

Orazio Svelto. Principles of Lasers. 



MethodPercentage contribution
Final Assessment  100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Set Task 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Set Task 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

Linked modules

Pre-requisites: PHYS2001 AND PHYS2003 AND PHYS2006 AND PHYS2023 AND PHYS2024

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