Master Course Description

No: EE 488

Title: Photonics Design Capstone

Credits: 4

UW Course Catalog Description

Coordinator: Arka Majumdar, Assistant Professor, and Lih Y. Lin, Professor, Electrical Engineering

Goals: This capstone design course provides senior undergraduate students interested in optics and photonics with principles, design and hands-on experience in real-world applications of photonics through an open-ended design project. Students will gain familiarity and experience with basic photonic components, equipment and systems.

Learning Objectives:

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

  1. Understand and apply fundamental principles in optics and photonics.
  2. Describe how various optical and optoelectronic components work, and perform experiments with them.
  3. Formulate and solve open-ended design problems in optical systems relevant to real-world applications.
  4. Describe practical constraints and design a physical demonstration for the final project around the constraints.
  5. Perform analysis of the experiment data.
  6. Work in teams with heterogeneous knowledge and skills.
  7. Write formal project reports and make formal project presentations.


B. E. A. Saleh and M. C. Teich, Fundamentals of Photonics, 2nd ed., Wiley-Interscience, 2007.

Reference Texts:

E. Hecht, Optics, 4th ed., Addison-Wesley, 2001.

F. L. Pedrotti L. S. Pedrotti, and L. M. Pedrotti, Introduction to Optics, 3rd ed., Prentice Hall, 2007.

J. T. Verdeyen, Laser Electronics, 3rd ed., Prentice Hall, 1995.

S. O. Kasap, Optoelectronics and Photonics, 2nd ed., Prentice Hall, 2012.

Prerequisites: EE485 Introduction to Photonics

Prerequisites by Topic:

  1. Geometrical optics
  2. Light as electromagnetic waves
  3. Optical fiber
  4. Polarized light
  5. Interference
  6. Diffraction and diffraction gratings.
  7. Photon basics
  8. Laser operation and laser beam characteristics


  1. Review of fundamental principles in photonics, photodetection. Introduction to contemporary research advance in photonics. 2 weeks
  2. Building a spectrometer or a microscope utilizing mirrors, lenses, gratings and other optical and optoelectronic components. Characterize the instrument. 2 weeks
  3. Project proposal presentation, discussion and feedback. 1 week
  4. Engineering design of the project, experiments, and analysis of experimental data. 4 weeks
  5. Project reports and presentations. 1 week

Course Structure: The class meets twice a week, each consisting of a 100 minute session with 10 minute break in between. The first two weeks will be lectures to prepare the students with knowledge and information for designing the projects. Homework and/or quiz may be given during these two weeks. The students start working in the lab and gain hands-on experience with common optical and optoelectronic components and equipment through building and characterizing a spectrometer or a microscope. In the meantime, the students form project teams and start designing the projects. They present the project proposals during the 5th week. The whole class including the instructor and TA discuss the proposals and give feedback. Week 6-9 are devoted to working in the lab to carry out the designs, as well as experimental data analysis. The students make final project presentations during the 10th week and submit the project reports afterwards.

Computer Resources: The students may need to use general numerical modeling software such as MATLAB to help designing their projects.

Laboratory Resources: As this new course is introduced, we plan to conduct the experiments in either Prof. Majumdar's lab or Prof. Lin's lab (EE 065). In the future, we hope there will be a dedicated lab space for this course so that the students can also access it outside the class time.

Grading: Homework or quiz (10%); Midterm project (20%); Final project (70%).

Outcome Coverage: This course provides the ABET major design experience and address the following ABET Engineering Criterion 1 outcomes required of capstone design courses:

(b) An ability to design and conduct experiments, as well as analyze and interpret data. The design project requires the students to design and conduct experiments to achieve proof-of-concept demonstration of their proposed optical system. Data analysis and interpretation are necessary to show the performance and potential of the proposed approach. (Relevance: High)

(c) An ability to design a system, component, or process to meet desired needs within realistic constraints such as economic, environmental, social, political, ethical, health and safety, manufacturability, and sustainability. Applications of optics and photonics are broad in our society. Various applications will have different constraints in terms of economic, environmental, health and safety, manufacturability, and sustainability when placed in real world. When implemented in the laboratory, different constraints involving resources may apply. The students are required to design their projects and perform physical demonstration considering these constraints. (Relevance: Medium)

(d) An ability to function on multi-disciplinary teams. Students will operate in teams of 2-3 to perform the midterm design experiments and carry out the final projects. The students will have different background and skills. Success of the projects will strongly depend on the students being able to work with each other. (Relevance: High)

(f) An understanding of professional and ethical responsibility. Students are asked to assess the potential consequences of the design/technology they develop from a professional and ethical perspective. (Relevance: Medium)

(g) An ability to communicate effectively. Teams must make oral presentations about their projects at the end of the class and submit written project reports. Grading of the final project will be based on not only the effort students spent in the lab and the physical demonstrations, but also on how effective they can present their projects in the oral presentations and final project reports. (Relevance: High)

(h) The broad education necessary to understand the impact of engineering solutions in a global, economic, environmental, and societal context. Photonics has made its broad impact in various fields, ranging from optical fiber communications to energy to biomedicine, to name a few. Through this design course, students will be able to learn the impact of photonics on various innovation and problems related to these fields. (Relevance: Medium)

(i) A recognition of the need for, and an ability to engage in life-long learning. Examples of photonic devices and systems can be found in our daily life. Through this design course, the students will recognize this and continue to apply the skills they learn from this course to problems involving photonics in their life. (Relevance: Medium)

(j) A knowledge of contemporary issues. This course will include a review on contemporary research advance in photonics. The students will gain knowledge on pressing needs in the field of photonics and design their projects based on the knowledge. (Relevance: Medium.)

(k) An ability to use the techniques, skills, and modern engineering tools necessary for engineering practice. The students are expected to use various photonic and electronic components and tools, as well as modeling and data analysis software, for their midterm and final projects. (Relevance: High)

Preparers: Arka Majumdar and Lih Y. Lin

Last Revised: February 3, 2014