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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Physics and Astronomy : Undergraduate (School of Physics and Astronomy)

Undergraduate Course: Lasers and Applications (PHYS11044)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Physics and Astronomy CollegeCollege of Science and Engineering
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Year 4 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits10 ECTS Credits5
SummaryLasers are now commonplace throughout many aspects of everyday life, e.g. in bar code readers, eye surgery, optical communication, industrial processing, spectroscopy and many bioscience applications. The course starts with a review of the basic physics of optical cavities and the spontaneous/stimulated emission from materials leading to laser amplifiers and oscillators. Atomic, ionic and molecular gas lasers are discussed and the optical properties of laser cavities are introduced. Examples of laser applications are presented.
Course description The topics covered in this course are:

1). Introduction to lasers and why they are useful; comparison to black body radiator; scope of the course.
2). Einstein treatment of the interaction of radiation and matter; intro to conditions for optical gain.
3). Spectral line-shapes and finite lifetime; simple cavity model; condition for amplification.
4). Intensity transmitted by a Fabry-Perot cavity; the meaning of finesse; laser modes and gain; cavities inside cavities.
5). Four level laser; population inversion; gain saturation; examples of key lasers.
6). Q-switching in theory and practice; the acousto-optic effect.
7). Laser modes; properties of a single mode; longitudinal and transverse coherence; beats.
8). Multi-mode lasers; derivation of mode locking effect; active and passive mode locking; Kerr lens.
9). Geometric optics revision; lenses, mirrors and optical instruments.
10). Standing waves in closed and open cavities; two concave surfaces and diffraction; Gaussian beams; pictorial derivation stability conditions; effect of cavity parameters on modes.
11). Spectroscopy and lasers. Raman spectroscopy.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: ( Thermal Physics (PHYS09061) AND Fourier Analysis and Statistics (PHYS09055)) AND ( Quantum Mechanics (PHYS09053) OR Principles of Quantum Mechanics (PHYS10094))
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements At least 80 points accrued in courses of SCQF level 9 or 10 drawn from Schedule Q.
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2024/25, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  0
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 100 ( Lecture Hours 18, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 4, Supervised Practical/Workshop/Studio Hours 9, Summative Assessment Hours 8, Revision Session Hours 1, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 2, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 58 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 50 %, Coursework 50 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Degree Examination, 50%
Incremental Assessment, 20%
Short review of laser applications or gain medium, 30%
Feedback Not entered
Exam Information
Exam Diet Paper Name Hours & Minutes
Main Exam Diet S1 (December)2:00
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Absorption and spontaneous and stimulated emission in two level system, the effects of homogeneous and inhomogeneous line broadening.
  2. Operations of the Fabry-Perot cavity including mode separation and line-widths, laser gain conditions, gain clamping in both homogeneous and inhomogeneous line broadened media.
  3. The four-level laser system, the simple homogeneous laser and examples of the most common types of laser.
  4. Spectral properties of a single longitudinal mode, mode locked laser operation, schemes for active and passive mode locking in real laser system.
  5. Basics of Gaussian beam in laser cavity and optical properties of laser output, design of stable laser cavities using Gaussian beam optics.
Reading List
S Hooker & C Webb, Laser Physics, OUP, 2010.
Murray Library (QC688 Hoo)

G Brooker, Modern Classical Optics, OUP, 2003.
Murray Library (QC395.2 Bro)
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills The following transferable skills are developed:

a) Independent review of applications from the current literature.

b) Preparation of a review article aimed at a non-specialist scientific audience.

c) Oral discussion in Workshop sessions.
Course organiserDr Miriam Pena Alvarez
Tel: (0131 6)51 7214
Course secretaryMrs Jo Thorpe
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