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Michigan State UniversityPHY 431 Optics at MSU

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PHY 431 Optics (Syllabus)
Department of Physics and Astronomy
College of Natural Science, Michigan State University


Dr. Chih-Wei (C. W.) Lai


Fall 2014


4238 BPS

Class Meeting Days:

Tue, Thu


(517) 884-5675

Class Meeting Hours:

3:00 – 3:50 pm


Class Location:

1300 BPS


Office Hours:

Tue 4:00 – 5:00 pm, and by appointment

Lab Meeting Hours:

Lab Location:

S2 Tu 6:00-8:50 pm
S3 W 3:00–5:50 pm
1250 BPS

Lab Teaching Assistant:
Tenzin Rabga <>
Office Hours: Tue 10:00-11:00 am & Fri 3:00-4:00 pm, 1250 BPS (Optics Lab)



Let there be light!

Course Description

Physics 431 covers the fundamental properties of light propagation and interaction with matter under the approximations of geometrical optics and scalar wave optics. This is an intermediate Optics course with emphasis on applying lectured, theoretical principles in a hands-on setting. The lab will provide a correlation between theory and practice and should help explain how scientists arrive at their theories from experimental approaches within the laboratory setting. The course utilizes the Scientific Method to rationalize work performed and allows students to produce laboratory reports comparable to those found in scientific journals.

Course Credits

3 credits (2 hr lecture, 3 hr lab)

Course Prerequisites

Two semesters of introductory physics, one semester of physics laboratory, and one semester of modern physics.

  • PHY 183A or PHY 184 or PHY 184B or PHY 234B or PHY 294H (Introductory Physics)
  • PHY 192 (Physics Laboratory)
  • PHY 215 or PHY 215B (Thermodynamics and Modern Physics)
  • Completion of Tier I writing requirement.

It is necessary that you are familiar with Euclidean geometry, calculus with complex numbers, Taylor series approximation. It is helpful, but not necessary, to know electrodynamics, wave propagation, and Fourier analysis, we will cover these.
If you haven’t completed these prerequisites, you may still be permitted to take the course. You need to meet me to discuss this within the first two weeks.