Optics: Fundamentals and Applications (PHYS*3000)

Code and section: PHYS*3000*01

Term: Winter 2019

Instructor: Michael Massa


Course Information

Calendar Description

This course will introduce students to the fundamental principles of wave and geometric optics, with an emphasis on applications. Topics will include reflection, refraction, diffraction, interference, and polarization, as well as fiber optics, imaging systems and lasers.

Class Schedule and Location

Lectures are Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 10:30 am to 11:20 am in MCKN room 316

Midterm and Final Exam

The midterm is set for the evening of Friday March 1st, room and time TBA.
The final exam will be Friday April. 12, 2:30-4:30 (location TBA)

Course Instructor

Name: Michael Massa
Office: MacN 328
Office Hours: TBA, and will be arranged at the first lecture
Email: massam@uoguelph.ca


Two assessment schemes will be considered. The scheme which yields the higher score will automatically be applied.

Scheme 1

Assessment % of Grade
Quizzes 10%
Assignments 20%
Midterm 30%
Final Exam 40%

Scheme 2

Assessment % of Grade
Quizzes 10%
Assignments 20%
Midterm 20%
Final Exam 50%

Quizzes (~5-7) will be held in class, typically on Fridays, with advance notice given. Assignment deadlines (~4-5) will be announced in class, well in advance of due dates. Late submissions will be accepted within one day, with a 20% late penalty.

Learning Resources

Required Materials

Optics, by E. Hecht (Cambridge Press, 5th edition, 2015)


You are strongly encouraged to explore additional textbooks and references on Optics, Electricity & Magnetism and Differential Equations. Course pre-requisites include PHYS*2340 and PHYS*3130 and it is well worth revisiting material from these courses! Some suggestions will be provided by the course Instructor.

Course Website

The course website can be found by logging into Courselink

Major Course Topics

  1. Wave nature of light: traveling waves, 1D and 3D harmonic waves, wave equations, EM waves, superposition of harmonic waves, dispersion effect (e.g. wave pulse broadening)
  2. Reflection and refraction of light: Snell’s Law, Huygen’s and Fermat’s principles, geometric optics; Fresnel equations, polarization, Brewster’s angle, reflectance and transmittance, total reflection (e.g. fiber optics), evanescent waves, birefringence
  3. Interference of light: vector model, wavefront-splitting interferometer, fringes of equal inclination or equal thickness, multiple-beam interference, the Fabry-Perot interferometer (e.g. laser cavity modes)
  4. Coherence properties for light sources: coherence time or length, spatial coherence
  5. Fraunhofer diffraction: single-slit diffraction, beam spreading, rectangular and circular apertures, resolution, double-slit diffraction, gratings
  6. Fresnel diffraction
  7. Fourier Optics
  8. Lasers: energy levels, population inversion, stimulated emission, laser cavity modes and mode locking

Collaboration versus Copying

Students are encouraged to discuss with each other during work on the problem assignments. However, the work that you submit as your assignment must not be a copy of someone else’s work – you must be able to present solutions such that they reflect your own understanding. Identical scripts will be given a mark of zero and plagiarism will be dealt with severely. Proper citations should be provided when books and other articles are used in your work. Please do not hesitate to speak with your instructor if you are unsure of the integrity of your own actions – before submitting your work.


Copies of out-of-class assignments

Keep paper and/or other reliable back-up copies of all out-of-class assignments: you may be asked to resubmit work at any time.

E-mail Communication

As per university regulations, all students are required to check their <mail.uoguelph.ca> e-mail account regularly: e-mail is the official route of communication between the University and its students.

When You Cannot Meet a Course Requirement

When you find yourself unable to meet an in-course requirement because of illness or compassionate reasons, please advise the course instructor (or designated person, such as a teaching assistant) in writing, with your name, ID#, and e-mail contact. See the undergraduate calendar for information on regulations and procedures for Academic Consideration.


The Academic Calendars are the source of information about the University of Guelph’s procedures, policies and regulations which apply to undergraduate, graduate and diploma programs.

Drop Date

The last date to drop one-semester courses, without academic penalty, is Friday March 8th, 2019. See: regulations and procedures for Dropping Courses, see the Undergraduate Calendar.

Recording of Materials

Presentations which are made in relation to course work—including lectures—cannot be recorded or copied without the permission of the presenter, whether the instructor, a classmate or guest lecturer. Material recorded with permission is restricted to use for that course unless further permission is granted.


The University of Guelph is committed to creating a barrier-free environment. Providing services for students is a shared responsibility among students, faculty and administrators. This relationship is based on respect of individual rights, the dignity of the individual and the University community's shared commitment to an open and supportive learning environment. Students requiring service or accommodation, whether due to an identified, ongoing disability or a short-term disability should contact Student Accessibility Services (SAS) as soon as possible.
For more information, contact SAS at 519-824-4120 ext. 56208 or email accessibility@uoguelph.ca 

Academic Misconduct

The University of Guelph is committed to upholding the highest standards of academic integrity and it is the responsibility of all members of the University community – faculty, staff, and students – to be aware of what constitutes academic misconduct and to do as much as possible to prevent academic offences from occurring. University of Guelph students have the responsibility of abiding by the University's policy on academic misconduct regardless of their location of study; faculty, staff and students have the responsibility of supporting an environment that discourages misconduct. Students need to remain aware that instructors have access to and the right to use electronic and other means of detection.

Please note: Whether or not a student intended to commit academic misconduct is not relevant for a finding of guilt. Hurried or careless submission of assignments does not excuse students from responsibility for verifying the academic integrity of their work before submitting it. Students who are in any doubt as to whether an action on their part could be construed as an academic offence should consult with a faculty member or faculty advisor.

The Academic Misconduct Policy is detailed in the Undergraduate Calendar.

Course Evaluation

The Department of Physics requires student assessment of all courses taught by the Department. These assessments provide essential feedback to faculty on their teaching by identifying both strengths and possible areas of improvement. In addition, annual student assessment of teaching provides part of the information used by the Department’s Tenure and Promotion Committee in evaluating the faculty member's contribution in the area of teaching.

The Department's teaching evaluation questionnaire invites student response both through numerically quantifiable data, and written student comments. In conformity with University of Guelph Faculty Policy, the Department’s Tenure and Promotions Committee only considers comments signed by students (choosing "I agree" in question 14). Your instructor will see all signed and unsigned comments after final grades are submitted. Written student comments may also be used in support of a nomination for internal and external teaching awards.

Note: No information will be passed on to the instructor until after the final grades have been submitted.