Master Course Description for EE-485 (ABET sheet)

Title: Introduction to Photonics

Credits: 4

UW Course Catalog Description

Coordinator: Lih Y. Lin, Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering

Goals: To acquaint students with vocabulary, major principles and phenomena of modern optics and photonic devices.

Learning Objectives: At the end of this course, students will be able to:

  1. Explain major concepts of electromagnetic theory.
  2. Describe light propagation in free space and materials.
  3. Derive and explain equations for interference and diffraction phenomena.
  4. Apply polarization to treatment of light.
  5. Perform analysis of optical resonators and waveguiding structures.
  6. Describe the concept of photons and optical amplification.
  7. Describe and design various lasers.


F. L. Pedrotti, L. S. Pedrotti, and L. M. Pedrotti, Introduction to Optics, 3rd Ed., Cambridge University Press, 2017.

Reference Texts:

  1. Jia-Ming Liu, Principles of Photonics, 2nd Ed., Cambridge University Press, 2016.
  2. B. E. A. Saleh and M. C. Teich, Fundamentals of Photonics, John Wiley & Sons, 1991.
  3. J. T. Verdeyen, Laser Electronics, 3rd Ed., Prentice Hall, 1995.

Prerequisites by Topic:

  1. Basic principles of electromagnetism (PHYS-123, EE-361, or equivalent)
  2. Complex numbers and functions
  3. Introductory differential and integral calculus, linear differential equations


  1. Geometrical optics: Reflection, refraction, total internal reflection, applications in optical fibers.
  2. Electromagnetic theory of light: Optical wave functions, wave equations, Maxwell's equations in various media, energy flow and absorption.
  3. Polarization: Jones vectors and Jones matrices, Fresnel equations, polarization devices.
  4. Interference: Principle of superposition and interference, two-beam interference and interferometry, multi-wave interference, Fabry-Perot interferometer, group/phase velocity and dispersion.
  5. Diffraction: Fraunhofer diffraction, Fresnel diffraction, diffraction gratings.
  6. Photon and optical transitions: Photon optics, optical transition rates absorption and emission.
  7. Optical amplification and laser: Basic steady-state population, optical gain, steady-state operation, oscillation laser modes, laser power characteristics, Gaussian beam propagation.

Course Structure: Class meets for two lectures a week, each consisting of a 100 minute session with a 10 minute break in between. Homework is assigned for each topic. There is a midterm exam and a final exam or a final project.

Computer Resources: Mathematical programming software such as Matlab, Mathcad, or Mathematica will be useful for some of the homework problems and final project.

Laboratory Resources: Not required.

Grading: Homework (25%), Midterm exam (40%), Final exam or final project (30%), Class participation (5%).

ABET Student Outcome Coverage: This course addresses the following outcomes:

H = high relevance, M = medium relevance, L = low relevance to course.

(1) An ability to identify, formulate, and solve complex engineering problems by applying principles of engineering, science, and mathematics. (H) The course applies knowledge of physics and mathematics to description and analysis of optical phenomena, devices and systems. Electromagnetic theory and optics formalisms are used throughout the course.

(5) An ability to function effectively on a team whose members together provide leadership, create a collaborative and inclusive environment, establish goals, plan tasks, and meet objectives. (L) The final project may require working as teams and collaboratively achieving the design goals.

(7) An ability to acquire and apply new knowledge as needed, using appropriate learning strategies. (M) To solve problems in photonics requires the ability to acquire and apply new knowledge, tools and learning strategies in engineering, physics and math.

Preparer: Lih Y. Lin

Last Revised: March 4, 2019