Fall 2021 - PHYS 455 D100

Modern Optics (3)

Class Number: 1811

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Mo, We, Fr 10:30 AM – 11:20 AM
    BLU 11911, Burnaby

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Dec 13, 2021
    12:00 PM – 3:00 PM
    SWH 10075, Burnaby

  • Prerequisites:

    PHYS 321 with a minimum grade of C-. Corequisite: PHYS 385.



Optical physics, including geometrical and physical optics, waves in anisotropic media, coherence, image formation and Fourier optics, guided wave optics and selected advanced topics such as lasers, nonlinear optics, photonics and quantum optics. Quantitative.


The primary purpose of tutorials will be for you to practice problem solving, which can include in-class problems and discussion of assigned problems.

Topic Sequence
• Historical introduction and review of basic wave phenomena
• Geometrical optics
• Fourier analysis
• Electromagnetic waves
• Polarization and anisotropic media
• Diffraction
• Interferometry
• Introduction to lasers and laser beams
• Coherence
• Imaging and (super)-resolution

Course Objectives

Optics is a vast field, and it will be impossible for you to master it all in a one-semester course. Some of the primary objectives of this course are as follows:
• Given an optical instrument, experiment, or phenomenon, you should be able to identify the optical principles that are relevant to its understanding, and articulate them in mathematical language.
• Given an application, you should be able to design an optical system to address it.
• You should be able to describe how light interacts with matter, and discuss the consequences of this interaction.
• You should be able to discuss the consequences of optical polarization and coherence, and predict how these properties of light affect the behavior of simple optical systems. You should be able to predict interference and diffraction patterns.
• You should possess working knowledge of Fourier analysis and its associated mathematical machinery; that is, you should be able to calculate Fourier integrals, convolutions, and correlation functions, and know how to use these tools for predicting optical phenomena.
• You should be able to use mathematics, including analytical, approximate, and numerical methods, to reason about optical phenomena. Also, your physical understanding of optics should help you reason about mathematics.


  • Assignments 30%
  • Midterms (2x20%) (oral (X2) dates TBD) 40%
  • Final Exam (oral, date TBA) 30%



A. Lipson, S. G. Lipson, and H. Lipson
Optical Physics 4th edition
An electronic version is also available electronically through the library. As access is limited to eight simultaneous users, please log out when you are finished.

*Students can purchase textbooks from online retailers if e-book not available at SFU Bookstore.

Other resources:
At a similar level:
E. Hecht, Optics
F. L. Pedrotti, L. M. Pedrotti, L. .S Pedrotti, Introduction to Optics.
(Very) advanced:
M. Born and E. Wolf: Principles of Optics.

Department Undergraduate Notes:

Students who cannot write their exam during the course's scheduled exam time must request accommodation from their instructor in writing, clearly stating the reason for this request, within one week of the final exam schedule being posted.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html


Teaching at SFU in fall 2021 will involve primarily in-person instruction, with approximately 70 to 80 per cent of classes in person/on campus, with safety plans in place.  Whether your course will be in-person or through remote methods will be clearly identified in the schedule of classes.  You will also know at enrollment whether remote course components will be “live” (synchronous) or at your own pace (asynchronous).

Enrolling in a course acknowledges that you are able to attend in whatever format is required.  You should not enroll in a course that is in-person if you are not able to return to campus, and should be aware that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who may need class or exam accommodations, including in the context of remote learning, are advised to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112) as early as possible in order to prepare for the fall 2021 term.