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Optical Properties

What happens when light shines on a material?
Why do materials have characteristic colors?
Why are some materials transparent and others not?
Optical applications:
-- luminescence
-- photoconductivity
-- solar cell
-- optical communications fibers

Facts about Optical Fibres
Optical Fibres are tiny cylindrical strands of glass that carry light rather than electrical energy.

Fiber-optic cable is increasingly used for long-distance phone lines because it can carry large
amounts of data, is not subject to crosstalk or electromagnetic noise, and cannot be tapped into
without producing a noticeable drop in signal level.

Glass and/or plastic cables connect to a light source and the light is carried from the source
through the cable by a reflected inner lining.

The cables can be cut to various lengths and the tips where the light comes out does not get hot.

Plastic fibers are made with chemicals, the CORE is Polymethyl Methacrylate polymer (PMMA),
and the CLAD is a thin layer of Fluorine polymer. The Core carries the light down the Fiber while
the Clad is the reflective surface the light bounces off of!

If light enters one end of a fiber, it will travel through the fiber with very low loss, even if the fiber
is curved.

The principle that makes this transmission of light work depends on the total of internal reflection.

Glasses are among the few solids that transmit visible light

Thin film oxides might, but scattering from grains

limit their thickness

Glasses form the basic elements of virtually all optical systems

World-wide telecommunications by optical fibers
Aesthetic appeal of fine glassware- 'crystal' chandeliers

High refractive index/birefringent PbO-based glasses

Color in cathedral windows, art glass, etc.

Optical Properties
1. Bulk Properties: refractive index, optical dispersion
2. Wavelength-dependent optical properties: color
3. Non-traditional, 'induced' optical effects: photosensitivity,
photochromism, etc. 3
Optical devices

Examples: mirrors, lenses, beam splitters, photovoltaic devices

Optical Properties
Light has both particulate and wavelike properties
Photons - with mass

E h

E energy
h Planck' s constant (6.62 x10 34 J s)
c speed of light (3.00 x 108 m/s)

Refractive Index, n
Transmitted light distorts electron clouds.
no cloud
transmitted transmitted
+ + distorts
light light

Light is slower in a material vs vacuum.

c (velocity of light in vacuum)
n = refractive index
v (velocity of light in medium)

--Adding large, heavy ions (e.g., lead

Note: n = f (); - Wave length
can decrease the speed of light.
--Light can be Typical glasses ca. 1.5 -1.7
"bent" Plastics 1.3 -1.6
PbO (Litharge) 2.67
Diamond 2.41
Selected values from Table 21.1,
Callister 7e.
Total Internal Reflectance
n sin
n > n
n sin
n(low) 1' i incident angle
n (high) i refracted angle
c critical angle

c c occurs when i 90
1 for i c light is internally reflected

Total internal reflection is an optical phenomenon that occurs when a ray of light
strikes a medium boundary at an angle larger than a particular critical angle with respect
to the normal to the surface. If the refractive index is lower on the other side of the
boundary, no light can pass through and all of the light is reflected. The critical angle is
the angle of incidence above which the total internal reflection occurs. 7
Example: Diamond in air

n sin 2.41 sin 90


n sin 1 sin c sin c

sin c c 24.5

Fiber optic cables are clad in low n material for this


Light Interaction with Solids
Incident light is either reflected, absorbed, or
transmitted: Io IT I A IR IS

Reflected: IR Absorbed: IA
Transmitted: IT
Incident: I0
Scattered: IS
Optical classification of materials:
Transparent Adapted from Fig. 21.10, Callister
Translucent 6e. (Fig. 21.10 is by J. Telford,
with specimen preparation by P.A.
Opaque Lessing.)

single polycrystalline polycrystalline

crystal dense porous
Optical Properties of Metals:
Absorption of photons by electron transition:
Energy of electron
unfilled states

E = h required!

Io filled states
Plancks constant freq.
(6.63 x 10-34 J/s) incident
Adapted from Fig. 21.4(a), Callister 7e.

Metals have a fine succession of energy states.
Near-surface electrons absorb visible light.
Optical Properties of Metals:
Electron transition emits a photon.
Energy of electron
IR unfilled states
conducting electron
re-emitted E
photon from
material surface
filled states

Adapted from Fig. 21.4(b), Callister 7e.

Reflectivity = IR/Io is between 0.90 and 0.95.

Reflected light is same frequency as incident.
Metals appear reflective (shiny)!
Non metal
Light Absorption
IT x
e linear absorption coefficien t [] cm 1
I0 t sample thickness

ln x

Io Intensity of nonreflected incident radiation

IT Intensity of transmitted or nonabsorbed radiation

Reflectivity, R
Metals reflect almost all light
Copper & gold absorb in blue & green => gold
color 2
n1 n2
R reflectivi ty n1, n2v- indices of
n1 n2 reflection of two
Example: Diamond 2.41 1
R 0.17
2.41 1

17% of light is reflected

Refractive index

Values between 1 and 4

- air: 1.003
- silicate glasses: 1.5 to 1.9
- solid oxide ceramics: 2.7
Dependent on structure-type and packing geometry

- glasses and cubic crystals: n is independent of direction

- other crystal systems: n larger in closed-packed directions
- SiO2: glass = 1.46, tridymite= 1.47, cristobaltite= 1.49 quartz= 1.55

Optical Properties of ceramics and glasses

Refractive index n

- velocity of light in vacuum: c = 299 792 458 m/s

- velocity of light in any other medium: v (v < c)
- refractive index n = c/v

-c can be related to 0 and 0

-v can be related to and

- ceramics posess small susceptibilities:

In semicrystalline or polycrystalline materials

density of crystals higher than amorphous
materials speed of light is lower - causes light to
scatter - can cause significant loss of light

Common in polymers
Ex: LDPE milk cartons cloudy
Polystyrene clear essentially no crystals

Selected Absorption: Semiconductors
Absorption by electron transition occurs if h > Egap
Energy of electron

unfilled states
blue light: h = 3.1 eV
red light: h = 1.7 eV

incident photon
energy h

Io filled states
Adapted from Fig. 21.5(a), Callister 7e.

If Egap < 1.8 eV, full absorption; color is black (Si, GaAs)
If Egap > 3.1 eV, no absorption; colorless (diamond)
If Egap in between, partial absorption; material has a color.
Wavelength vs. Band Gap
Example: What is the minimum wavelength absorbed
by Ge?

Eg = 0.67 eV
hc (6.62 x 1034 J s)(3 x 10 8 m/s)
c 1.85 m
Eg 19
(0.67eV)(1.60 x 10 J/eV)

note : for Si Eg 1.1 eV c 1.13 m

If donor (or acceptor) states also available this provides other
absorption frequencies

Color of Nonmetals
Color determined by sum of frequencies of
-- transmitted light,
-- re-emitted light from electron transitions.
Ex: Cadmium Sulfide (CdS)
-- Egap = 2.4 eV,
-- absorbs higher energy visible light (blue, violet),
-- Red/yellow/orange is transmitted and gives it color.
Ex: Ruby = Sapphire (Al2O3) + (0.5 to 2) at% Cr2O3
-- Sapphire is colorless
Transmittance (%)
(i.e., Egap > 3.1eV) sapphire
-- adding Cr2O3 : ruby
alters the band gap
blue light is absorbed 40
wavelength, (= c/)(m)
yellow/green is absorbed 0.3 0.5 0.7 0.9
red is transmitted Adapted from Fig. 21.9, Callister 7e. (Fig. 21.9
adapted from "The Optical Properties of Materials" by
Result: Ruby is deep A. Javan, Scientific American, 1967.)
red in color.
Luminescence emission of light by a cool material
material absorbs light at one frequency & emits at
another (lower) frequency.
Conduction band

How stable is the trapped state?

trapped If very stable (long-lived = >10-8 s) =
Eemission phosphorescence
Eg states
If less stable (<10-8 s) = fluorescence
level Example: glow in the dark toys.
Charge them up by exposing them to
Valence band the light. Reemit over time. --
What is luminescence?

Luminescence is a general term for the emission of light from

a cool object. (In contrast to, e.g., incandescence the
emission of light from a hot piece of metals such as the
filament in a light bulb.) There are many examples of naturally
occurring luminescence. Most of these fall into one of 3
Phosphorescence: Absorption and slow re-emission of light.
Most commonly observed in minerals.
Fluorescence: Absorption and fast re-emission of light. Seen
in deep sea organisms and some insects and plants.
Chemiluminescence: Emission of light driven by a chemical
reaction. The most common form of natural luminescence
(often called bioluminescence). Seen in aquatic organisms,
insects and plants.

Certain minerals will glow in the dark when exposed to
ultraviolet (UV) light. Some of them continue to glow
even after the ultraviolet light is turned off. This slow re-
emission of light is known as phosphorescence. The first
phosphorescent mineral was reported in the early 1600s.
These minerals, or inorganic phosphors have many
interesting uses for example, they are used in making
the cathode ray tubes still used in older color televisions.

Like phosphorescence, fluorescence involves absorbing and
re-emitting light. However, fluorescence is very fast, and is
disappears as soon as there is no more light to absorb. While
some minerals are reported to fluoresce, this is usually
phosphorescence that has been given the wrong name.
An interesting example of natural fluorescence is the
exoskeleton of scorpions scorpions glow under UV light!
People are still arguing about whether this fluorescence has a
biological role, or if it is just a coincidence. For people who like
to collect scorpions, it makes them easy to find at night with a
portable UV lamp. 23

Chemiluminescence is the generation of light by a chemical reaction. This is the

most common form of luminescence in living organisms. Insects like fireflies use
chemiluminescence to attract their mates, deep sea fish like the Anglerfish use it
to lure prey close to their mouth and microorganisms use it to signal distress.

Is non-coherent light a problem? diverges
cant keep tightly columnated

How could we get all the light in phase? (coherent)

Amplification by
Emission of
Involves a process called population inversion of
energy states

Population Inversion
What if we could increase most species to the excited

Fig. 21.14, Callister 7e.

LASER Light Production
pump the lasing material to the excited state
e.g., by flash lamp (non-coherent lamp).

Fig. 21.13, Callister 7e.

If we let this just decay we get no coherence.

LASER Cavity
Tuned cavity:
Stimulated Emission
One photon induces the
emission of another
photon, in phase with the
cascades producing very
intense burst of coherent
i.e., Pulsed laser

Fig. 21.15, Callister 7e.

Continuous Wave LASER
Can also use materials such as CO2 or yttrium-
aluminum-garret (YAG) for LASERS
Set up standing wave in laser cavity
tune frequency by adjusting mirror spacing.
Uses of CW lasers
1. Welding
2. Drilling
3. Cutting laser carved wood, eye surgery
4. Surface treatment
5. Scribing ceramics, etc.
6. Photolithography Excimer laser

Ruby Laser Introduction
A ruby laser is a solid-state laser that uses a synthetic
ruby crystal as its gain medium.
It was the first type of laser invented, and was first
operated by Theodore H. "Ted" Maiman at Hughes
Research Laboratories on 1960-05-16 .
The ruby mineral (corundum) is aluminum oxide with a
small amount(about 0.05%) of chromium which gives it
its characteristic pink or red color by absorbing green
and blue light. The ruby laser is The ruby laser is used as
a pulsed laser, producing red light at 694.3 nm. After
receiving a pumping flash from the flash tube, the laser
light emerges for as long as the excited atoms persist in
the ruby rod, which is typically about a millisecond.
Laser construction

The active laser medium (laser gain/amplification medium) is a

synthetic ruby rod. Ruby is an aluminum oxide crystal in which some
of the aluminum atoms have been replaced with chromium
atoms(0.05% by weight). Chromium gives ruby its characteristic red
color and is responsible for the lasing behavior of the crystal.
Chromium atoms absorb green and blue light and emit or reflect
only red light. For a ruby laser, a crystal of ruby is formed into a
The rod's ends had to be polished with great precision, such that the
ends of the rod were flat to within a quarter of a wavelength of the
output light, and parallel to each other within a few seconds of arc.
The finely polished ends of the rod were silvered: one end
completely, the other only partially. The rod with its reflective ends
then acts as a Fabry-Prot etalon (or a Gires-Tournois etalon).
A xenon lamp is rolled over ruby rod and is used for pumping ions to
excited state.
Working of ruby laser
Ruby laser is based on three energy levels. The upper
energy level E3 I short-lived, E1 is ground state, E2 is
metastable state with lifetime of 0.003 sec.

Ruby lasers have declined in use with the discovery of better lasing
media. They are still used in a number of applications where short
pulses of red light are required. Holographers around the world
produce holographic portraits with ruby lasers, in sizes up to a
metre squared.
Many non-destructive testing labs use ruby lasers to create
holograms of large objects such as aircraft tires to look for
weaknesses in the lining.
Ruby lasers were used extensively in tattoo and hair removal
Drawbacks of Ruby laser
The laser requires high pumping power because the
laser transition terminates at the ground state and
more than half of ground state atoms must be
pumped to higher state to achieve population
The efficiency of ruby laser is very low because only
green component of the pumping light is used while
the rest of components are left unused.
The laser output is not continuos but occurs in the
form of pulses of microseconds duration.
The defects due to crystalline inperfection are also
present in this laser.
Semiconductor LASER
Apply strong forward
bias to junction.
Creates excited state
by pumping electrons
across the gap-
creating electron-hole

electron + hole neutral + h

excited state ground state

photon of
Adapted from Fig. 21.17,
light Callister 7e.

Uses of Semiconductor LASERs
First use = compact disk player
Color? - red
Banks of these semiconductor lasers are used as
flash lamps to pump other lasers
Fibers often turned to a specific frequency
(typically in the blue)
only recently was this a attainable

Applications of Materials Science
New materials must be developed to make new &
improved optical devices.
Organic Light Emitting Diodes (OLEDs)
White light semiconductor sources

Fig. 21.12, Callister 7e.

Reproduced by
arrangement with Silicon
Chip magazine.)

New semiconductors
Materials scientists
(& many others) use lasers as tools.
Solar cells
Solar Cells
p-n junction: Operation:
-- incident photon produces hole-elec. pair.
P-doped Si -- typically 0.5 V potential.
conductance Si -- current increases w/light intensity.
electron creation of
Si P Si hole-electron
light pair
Si - - -
n-type Si
p-n junction -
n-type Si p-type Si +
p-n junction + + +
P-type Si
Solar powered weather station:
hole Si

Si B Si

B-doped Si polycrystalline Si
Los Alamos High School weather
station (photo courtesy
P.M. Anderson)

Solar cell Working Principle

Operating diode in fourth quadrant generates power

Back Surface Fields

Most carriers are generated in thicker p region

Electrons are repelled by p-p+ junction field
Schottky Barrier Cell

Principle similar to p-n junction cell

Cheap and easy alternative to traditional cell
Conducting grid on top of metal layer
Surface damage due to high temperature in
grid-attachment technique
Grooved Junction Cell

Higher p-n junction area

High efficiency ( > 20%)
Thin Film Solar Cells

Produced from cheaper polycrystalline

materials and glass
High optical absorption coefficients
Bandgap suited to solar spectrum
CdTe/CdS Solar Cell

CdTe : Bandgap 1.5 eV; Absorption coefficient 10

times that of Si
CdS : Bandgap 2.5 eV; Acts as window layer
Limitation :
Poor contact quality with p-CdTe (~ 0.1 Wcm2)
Inverted Thin Film Cell

p-diamond (Bandgap 5.5 eV) as a window

n-CdTe layer as an absorption layer
Optical Fibers
preform drawn to 125 m or less capillary fibers
plastic cladding applied 60 m

Fig. 21.20, Callister 7e.

Fig. 21.18, Callister 7e. 52

Optical Fiber Profiles
Step-index Optical Fiber

Fig. 21.21, Callister 7e.

Graded-index Optical Fiber

Fig. 21.22, Callister 7e.

Optical Fiber
Communication system with light as the
carrier and fiber as communication
Propagation of light in atmosphere
impractical: water vapor, oxygen, particles.
Optical fiber is used, glass or plastic, to
contain and guide light waves
Microwave at 10 GHz with 10% utilization ratio:
1 GHz BW
Light at 100 Tera Hz (1014 ) with 10% utilization
ratio: 100 THz (10,000GHz)
Optical Fiber: Advantages
Capacity: much wider bandwidth (10 GHz)
Crosstalk immunity
Immunity to static interference
Safety: Fiber is nonmetalic
Longer lasting (unproven)
Security: tapping is difficult
Economics: Fewer repeaters
higher initial cost in installation
Interfacing cost
Strength: Lower tensile strength
Remote electric power
more expensive to repair/maintain
Tools: Specialized and sophisticated
Optical Fiber Link

Input Coder or Light Source-to-Fiber
Signal Converter Source Interface

Fiber-optic Cable

Fiber-to-light Light Amplifier/Shaper Output

Interface Detector Decoder
Light source: LED or ILD (Injection Laser
amount of light emitted is proportional to the
drive current
Source to-fiber-coupler (similar to a lens):
A mechanical interface to couple the light
emitted by the source into the optical fiber
Light detector: PIN (p-type-intrinsic-n-type)
or APD (avalanche photo diode) both
convert light energy into current
Fiber Types
Plastic core and cladding
Glass core with plastic cladding PCS
(Plastic-Clad Silicon)
Glass core and glass cladding SCS:
Silica-clad silica
Under research: non silicate: Zinc-
1000 time as efficient as glass
Plastic Fiber
used for short run
Higher attenuation, but easy to install
Better withstand stress
Less expensive
60% less weight
Types Of Optical Fiber

n1 core
n2 cladding
Single-mode step-index Fiber no air

n1 core
n2 cladding
Multimode step-index Fiber no air
Multimode graded-index Fiber Index porfile
Single-mode step-index Fiber
Minimum dispersion: all rays take same path,
same time to travel down the cable. A pulse can
be reproduced at the receiver very accurately.
Less attenuation, can run over longer distance
without repeaters.
Larger bandwidth and higher information rate
Difficult to couple light in and out of the tiny core
Highly directive light source (laser) is required.
Interfacing modules are more expensive
Multi Mode
Multimode step-index Fibers:
inexpensive; easy to couple light into
result in higher signal distortion; lower
TX rate
Multimode graded-index Fiber:
intermediate between the other two
types of Fibers
Acceptance Cone & Numerical Aperture

Acceptance n2 cladding
Cone qC n1 core
n2 cladding

Acceptance angle, qc, is the maximum angle in which

external light rays may strike the air/Fiber interface
and still propagate down the Fiber with <10 dB loss.
Numerical aperture:
qC sin 1
n n2
2 2
1 NA = sin qc = (n12 - n22)
Losses In Optical Fiber Cables
The predominant losses in optic Fibers
absorption losses due to impurities in the
Fiber material
material or Rayleigh scattering losses due to
microscopic irregularities in the Fiber
chromatic or wavelength dispersion because
of the use of a non-monochromatic source
radiation losses caused by bends and kinks in
the Fiber
modal dispersion or pulse spreading due to
rays taking different paths down the Fiber
coupling losses caused by misalignment &
imperfect surface finishes
Fiber Alignment Impairments

Axial displacement Gap displacement

Angular displacement Imperfect surface finish

Light Sources
Light-Emitting Diodes (LED)
made from material such as AlGaAs or GaAsP
light is emitted when electrons and holes
either surface emitting or edge emitting
Injection Laser Diodes (ILD)
similar in construction as LED except ends are
highly polished to reflect photons back & forth
ILD versus LED
more focussed radiation pattern;
smaller Fiber
much higher radiant power; longer span
faster ON, OFF time; higher bit rates
monochromatic light; reduces
much more expensive
higher temperature; shorter lifespan
When light (radiation) shines on a material, it may be:
-- reflected, absorbed and/or transmitted.
Optical classification:
-- transparent, translucent, opaque
-- fine succession of energy states causes absorption
and reflection.
-- may have full (Egap < 1.8eV) , no (Egap > 3.1eV), or
partial absorption (1.8eV < Egap = 3.1eV).
-- color is determined by light wavelengths that are
transmitted or re-emitted from electron transitions.
-- color may be changed by adding impurities which
change the band gap magnitude (e.g., Ruby)
-- speed of transmitted light varies among materials.