Electrical Engineering Seminar and Special Problems – MODERN OPTICS


Optics (or Photonics) has been revolutionizing many areas in our lives. However, to many non-Optics professionals, they may not be aware of how Optics is impacting our lives. In this course, we will explore four Optical techniques and see how they contribute to material characterization, image processing, data storage, and communication. Students in this course will gain working knowledge and learn principles behind the techniques. Hopefully by the end of the course, the students will be aroused to learn more Optics and start applying Optics to solve technical problems.  

Course Content 

Optical pump and probe, spatial filtering of optical information, holography, and optical wireless communication. Applications in thermal characterization of thin film and nanostructures, pattern recognition, 3D imaging and monitoring of live cells, and indoor optical wireless communication.

  • Optical Pump and Probe

-Photothermal Phenomena 

-Pulsed Photothermal Reflectance (PPR) technique  

-Transmission-line theory of heat conduction

-Measurement setup and curve fitting 

-Other photothermal methods

  • Spatial Filtering of Optical Information

-Abbe theory of imaging

-Amplitude spatial filtering 

-Phase filtering + Fabrication of phase plate used in phase contrast microscope  

-Amplitude and phase filtering

-Resolution of coherent illumination

  • Holography

-Basic principles of holography

-Digital recording and numerical reconstruction of hologram

-Construction of digital holographic photothermal microscope

-Computer Generated Hologram (CGH)

  • Optical Wireless Communication

-Comparison of Optical and Radio communication

-Indoor and outdoor optical wireless communication

-Holographic diffuser for diffuse link 

-Optimization of diffusing spot pattern for indoor communication 

-Illumination design of a White LED transmission system 

Learning Objectives

The course is expected to appeal to students in Electrical and Computer Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Biomedical Engineering, Engineering Physics and Physics.  On the successful completion of this course, the students will be able to: 

-achieve a sufficient understanding of the principles of the optical techniques and their limitations                                                                                                                                             -comprehend research literature that utilizes techniques covered in this course 

-generate CGH for a given image

-perform numerical reconstruction of digital hologram

For students involved in Photonics research, in addition to the above, they will be able to:  

 -setup a PPR system for measuring the thermal properties of thin films or nanostructures            

-setup coherent optical signal processor for filtering optical information

-setup optical system for acquiring digital hologram

-fabricate CGH and phase plate 


There is no required textbook. Here are some recommended references

  • D.P. Almond, P.M. Patel, Photothermal Science and Techniques, Chapman & Hall, 1996
  • Eugene Hecht, Optics, 5th edition, Addison Wesley, 2015
  • Joseph Goodman, Introduction to Fourier Optics, 4th edition, McGraw-Hill, 2017
  • John Barry, Wireless Infrared Communications, Springer-Verlag New York Inc., 2012


Working knowledge of Optics, Differential equation, Laplace and Fourier transforms

Assessment Scheme

  • Homework: four homework assignments, and students are given couple weeks to work on each.
  • Midterm: in-class midterm; open book open notes
  • Project: each student will be assigned one paper for comprehensive understanding and creative application. In the second last week, each student will give a 15-minute presentation and submit a summary of 3 pages.  
  • Final exam: in-class final; open book open notes
  • Grading: class participation 5%, homework 15%, midterm 25%, project 20%, final 35%

More Information 

UBC Course Page