Electrical Engineering Seminar and Special Problems – MODERN OPTICAL ENGINEERING


Optics (or Photonics) has been revolutionizing many areas in our lives. However, too many non-Optics professionals, they may not be aware of how Optics is impacting our lives. In this course, we will explore how Optical techniques contribute to material characterization and image processing. While students may be familiar with imaging, they may not know how to design an optical system to meet certain optical requirements and how to evaluate an optical system. A commercial software, Zemax, will be introduced to students and they will learn how to model, evaluate, and design different optical systems. 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, and optical design using Zemax. Applications in thermal characterization of thin film and nanostructures, pattern recognition, and design a triplet lens system.

  • 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
  • Optical Design using Zemax OpticStudio
    • First order optics
    • Aberrations
    • Stops and Pupils
    • Evaluation of an optical design
    • Aspheric surface

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
  • Able to evaluate the optical performance of an optical design
  • Use Zemax OpticStudio to design a triplet lens system

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
  • Fabricate 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
  • Warren Smith, Modern Optical Engineering, 4th edition, 2007
  • Robert Fischer, Optical System Design, Second Edition, 2008
  • Joseph Goodman, Introduction to Fourier Optics, 4th edition, McGraw-Hill, 2017


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 choose a topic from a given list for comprehensive understanding and creative application. A 5 pages report will then be submitted.
  • Final exam: in-class final; open book open notes
  • Grading: class participation 5%, homework 20%, midterm 25%, project 20%, final 30%

More Information 

UBC Course Page