PHY 431 - OPTICS I, FALL 2010

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Course Structure:

Two lectures per week in room 1308 Biomedical & Physical Sciences.
Tuesday and Thursday; 3:00pm - 3:50pm.
The schedule of the lectures, which is subject to change, can be found on the lecture sylabus.

One lab of about 3 hours every week starting September 7. See lab syllabus for more details.

Homework assignments and other information can be found on the homework page.


Prof. Chih-Wei (C. W.) Lai,
4238 Biomedical and Physical Sciences,
Telephone: 884-5675, email:  
Office hours: 12:00 - 1:30 pm Wednesday; email to schedule a personal appointment.

Teaching Assistants:

Optics Lab
Zach Meisel, email:
Office hours: 2:00 - 3:00 pm Monday @ 1250 BPS (Optics Lab)

Homework Grader
Yung-hsiu Tang, email:
Office hours: 3:00 - 4:00 pm Monday @ 4243 BPS.


1. Optics, by E. Hecht, 4th Edition (Addison-Wesley).

2. Introduction to Modern Optics, by Fowles ( Dover Book).

3. Schaum's outline of Theory and Problems of Optics, by E. Hecht (McGraw-Hill).

(Alternative 'Free' online textbooks)

Physics of Light and Optics, by J. B. Peatross and M. Ware (click here to download)
A textbook for advanced undergradaute students. A print copy (paperback, 333 pages) is available for the cost of printing ($15) (click here to order).

Optics, by B. Crowell (click here to download)
This book is part of the Light and Matter series of introductory physics textbooks.

Ch. 11 to Ch. 14, Electromagnetism and Optics, by Richard Fitzpatrick (click here to download)
(Additional References)

Geometric Optics, by J. B. Tatum (click here to download)

Lecture Notes on Optics, from MIT OpenCourseWare, (click here to download)



We will give out homework problems during the semester - 12 in total.

Normally problems will be handed out on a Thursday. There will be 12 assignments: the best 10 will count towards your final grade.

The first homework assignment is due on September 9 in class.

Midterm Exams:

There will be TWO midterm exams.

The first will be held on Tuesday, October 12 for one hour. This exam is closed book. You should bring a calculator.

The second is in the form of a special project. You will deliver presentations as a team (nominally three members) on November 18 & 23.

Final Exam:

The 2 hour final exam will cover everything we have studied. It will be held in the week of December 13. All answers and calculations should be contained on the exam pages handed out at the beginning of the exam. Final grades will be posted on the door of BPS 4238 by 5 pm the next Monday, December 20.

Optics Lab:

The lab will be run by Prof. Lai, with help from a TA (Zach Meisel) in room 1250 Biomedical & Physical Sciences.

There will be a total of 12 labs (including two demos). See labs syllabus for details.

You will submite 10 lab reports. Your score will consist of the highest 9 of the 10 write-up scores. At the end of the semester your point total will be scaled to count 25% toward your final grade. Note that it is required that you print and study the lab instructions posted online in advance. You will lose 1 point out of 10 for that lab report if you do not bring a printed copy of the lab instruction to the lab.

Note: The labs will begin the week of September 7 . You are REQUIRED to study the lab instructions posted online in advance. You will lose 1 point out of 10 for that lab report if you do not bring a printed copy of the lab instruction to the lab.
Final Grades:

Grades will be weighted as follows:



Midterm I


Project (Midterm II)




Final Exam


Laboratory Reports


Lab Attendance/Performance



The guaranteed scale, which may be lowered but not raised, is:

Total point percentage

Final grade

>92 pts
















 Please familiarize yourself with University policies concerning academic integrity (
They will be applied throughout the course.