Optics is the Science of light. As our most privileged human contact with the surrounding world is through the eye, optics has always been a central topic in our description of the observable universe. Light is also one of the key technological resources with practical applications found in a variety of technologies and everyday objects, including mirrors, lenses, telescopes, microscopes, lasers and fibre optics. Because light is a particular case of electromagnetic waves (with frequencies close to those visible to the naked eye), optical phenoma are just a branch of classical electromagnetism. The full theory is so large however and this particular case is so important that it comes as topic of its own.

Our first study of Optics, such as is done at the University of Wolverhampton, focuses on two aspects of light: as rays (geometrical optics) and as waves (physical optics). The emphasis is on geometrical optics with a detailed studies of optical instrumentation and their applications (magnifiers, cameras, microscope and telescopes, including human vision) in both the classroom and through laboratory sessions. The most important notions of physical optics that provide a more general framework to optical phenomena and prepare more advanced applications, such as interferometry, polarization and diffractive-optics, are also studied at a more introductory level. We also survey some advanced notions of photonics in the modern applications of light: the use of lasers, optical detectors, waveguides, fibers and devices for imaging, display and storage, to complete our first outlook on light.

Our course:

  1. Historical introduction. Properties and perception of light. Corpuscules vs waves.
  2. Application of light in science, engineering and daily life.
  3. Reflection & refraction.
  4. Sources and detectors of light; Use, properties and types of lasers.
  5. Light rays.
  6. Light waves.
  7. Huygens & Fermat.
  8. Reflection, refraction, Mirrors. Imaging by an optical system.
  9. Reflection and refraction at a spherical surface.
  10. Thin lenses. Vergence.
  11. Gaussian and Newtonian equations for lenses.
  12. Cylindrical lenses.
  13. Stops, pupils and windows, aberration.
  14. Dispersion of light, prism.
  15. Camera, magnifiers and eyepieces.
  16. Optics of the eye.
  17. Microscopes.
  18. Telescopes.
  19. Physical optics. Waves.
  20. Superpositions and interferences. Double slit. Thin-film interferences.
  21. Polarization of light. Brewster angle.
  22. Diffraction.

Optics students projects

  1. Camera Obscura
  2. Optimize a magnifier/telescope/microscope
  3. Droplet lens
  4. Solar furnace
  5. Aberration
  6. Diffraction grating