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Applied Optics, Physics 408

Prof: Mark Halpern

An introduction to optics with an emphasis on understanding the
origins of optical phenomena based on the fundamental theoretical
underpinning provided by Maxwell’s equations.
I 30% Labs (begin week of 14 Jan.)
I 15% Weekly Homework
I 10% In class activities and other things
I 15% Midterm Exam
I 30% Final Exam
We will rely on, and do problems from
Classical and Modern Optics by Dan Steck
Fundamentals of Photonics by B. Saleh and M. Teich.
both of which are available on line.
Outline Chapters have been re-ordered to move diffraction earlier:

I Ray Optics and propagation matrices (Steck Chapter 2)

I Maxwell’s Equations lead to waves (Steck 4)
I Diffraction(Steck 12)
I Fourier Optics (Steck 12)
I Gaussian Optics (Steck 6)
I Polarization and Jones matrices (Steck 8)
I Reflections and the Fresnel Equations (Steck 9)
I Thin Films (Steck 10)
I Fabry Perot Cavities (Steck 7)
I Lasers (Steck 15)
This order helps the labs to make sense sooner.
Diffraction leads to knowing a lens takes a spatial Fourier
transform. A gaussian is its own Fourier transform, thus a
self-diffracting shape. Gaussians form the beam profile in laser
Ray Optics Chapter 2 in Steck, Chapt 1 in s& T.

An excuse really to review image formation and to establish some

important principals. We all know this ray-thing is a fiction and
light is actually a wave.

Fermat’s Principal A ray of light traveling from A to B takes the

path which requires the least (or maybe the most) time. Later we
will see that this is a consequence of light traveling as a wave. For
now, we will just explore a few examples. Geometrical optics and
Snell’s law are examples of solutions of Fermat’s principal.
Optimize mirror path
Optimize refractive path.
rays 2

When many different rays can travel through an optical system to

all arrive at one place and form an image, the times of flight along
all of the paths is the same.

In this example, there are short paths which spend a long time in
slow glass and shorter paths which are barely delayed in the glass.

In terms of the distances from the lens to the object and image, R1
and R2 , what is the focal length of this lens?
rays 3

In terms of R1 and R2 , what is the focal length of this lens?

Remarks about Michelson Interferometers

In one of the labs

you will assemble
and align a
interferometer and
then use it to make
some Part
measurements’ of the signal from a light source is reflected off
of a beamsplitter. This beam is reflected from
a mirror and transmitted through the same
beamsplitter. You can put a detector where
the Reflected-Transmitted beam goes.
Michelson 2

Adjust the angle of the second

mirror so that the beam which is
originally transmitted at the
beamsplitter rejoins the first

Adjust the second mirror. Where those beams emerge from

the interferometer there should
be interference fringes due to a
phase difference between the two
The phase difference between
light traveling along the two
paths grows as one of the mirrors
Add a detector. Move one mirror. is moved.
Michelson 3

If the electric field where the light first hist the beamsplitter is
E (t), then the electric fields of the two beams correspond to
slightly earlier times.

ETR+RT (t) = E (t − 2L1 /c) + E (t − 2L2 /c).

where L1 and L2 are the two beamsplitter-to-mirror distances. The

intensity at the output is the average value of E 2 .

I ∝< E 2 >t = E12 + E22 + 2 < E (t − 2L1 /c) × E (t − 2L2 /c) >t

where the brackets denote an average over time. When E1 and E2

are equal this sum ranges from 0 to 1 times 2E 2 depending on
(L1 − L2 ).
L1 − L2
I (∆L) ∝ sin2 .
Michelson 4

Imagine that a light source gives out a sine wave, but with an
arbitrary phase change now and then. The mean time between
phase jumps is called a coherence time.

The interference pattern decays proportional to the odds you have

not encountered a phase jump.
Conic Sections as mirrors: a last remark on least time.

Conic sections are defined by special distance relations. A circle is

the set of points which are all the same distance from a single
point. An ellipse is the set of all points for which the sum of the
distances to two points is constant. A parabola is the set of all
points for which the difference between the distance from the
focus and the curve and the curve to a straight line are constant.
All of these shapes can act as a focussing mirror.
Let’s explore how this works.
Paraxial Optics

We will spend a lot of our For simple ray propagation, moving a

effort working with distance d along the optic axis, y
systems which are (nearly) changes but θ does not.
symmetric about an optic
y1 = yo + d sin θo (1)
axis. In this case only
off-axis distance and angle θ1 = θo (2)
suffice to specify a ray.
It is very tempting to write this as a
matrix, except for the difference
between θ and sin θ.
paraxial 2

If we restrict our attention to small angles, sin θ ≈ θ.

For what angle is this approximation wrong by 1%?
We will call the region near the optic axis, with small θ Paraxial.
When these conditions are met we can write the ray propagation
equations as a matrix.
y1 1 d yo
= (3)
θ1 0 1 θo
We can work out matrices for (thin) lenses, mirrors, etc in this
same approximation. To keep angles small, we will need our optic
elements not to be very curved, so we require y << R, the radius
of curvature of any surface.
paraxial 3 A thin lens and a plane mirror.

The convention in paraxial optics

We will treat this lens as is to ALWAYS treat the
THIN, so that angles projection of the propagation
change but positions do direction as a positive number.
not Even though in our own reference
frame θ has flipped sign from
  rising to the left to rising to the
1 0 right, in this convention it
MLens = .
−1/F 1 remains positive.
1 0
Mmirror = . (5)
0 1
Fourier Optics Lab.

We will show that the intensity pattern far from an opaque screen
is the Fourier Transform of the shape of the hole in the screen.
This is called Frauenhofer diffraction. We already know that a lens
transforms light which would have gone off parallel to infinity and
brings it to a focus a distance F from the lens.

Together, these remarks imply that the intensity pattern in the rear
focal plane of a lens is the Fourier transform of the light in the
principal plane of that lens.
Fourier Lab

Manipulate the Fourier Transform to filter an image. Move the

lens to see the result.