- Student Records
Programme & Unit Catalogues

Department of Physics, Unit Catalogue 2011/12

PH10005: Vibrations, waves & optics

Click here for further information Credits: 6
Click here for further information Level: Certificate (FHEQ level 4)
Click here for further information Period: Semester 2
Click here for further information Assessment: EX 100%
Click here for further information Supplementary Assessment: PH10005 - Mandatory Extra Work (where allowed by programme regulations)
Click here for further information Requisites: Before taking this unit you must take PH10007 or equivalent.
Click here for further information Description: Aims:
The aims of this unit are to introduce students to the fundamental concepts and mathematical treatment of waves, to explore various phenomena arising from the superposition of two or more waves, and to outline some of the general principles governing the propagation of light.

Learning Outcomes:
After taking this unit the student should be able to:
* analyse oscillating systems under different driving regimes;
* apply the wavefunction for a one-dimensional travelling wave to problems involving mechanical, acoustic, water and electromagnetic waves;
* state the principle of superposition and use it to solve problems involving the superposition of more than one wave;
* define and derive the impedance of a mechanical wave and apply it to reflection and transmission at interfaces;
* construct ray diagrams for use in solving simple geometrical optics problems;
* outline the mathematical analysis of multiple-beam interference;
* derive mathematical expressions for simple diffraction patterns and relate the limits imposed by diffraction to the performance of optical instruments.

Numeracy T/F A, Problem Solving T/F A.

Simple harmonic motion (3 hours): Oscillations, including damped and forced oscillations. Resonance, Q-factors. Coupled oscillations and introduction to normal modes. Wave motion as the limit of coupled oscillations. The wave equation (1D).
Introduction to waves (8 hours): Transverse and longitudinal waves. Plane, circular and spherical waves. Waves on strings; sound, water, particle and light waves. Mathematical representation of 1D plane waves; wavefunction, amplitude, frequency, wavelength, wavenumber, speed, energy, intensity and impedance. The Doppler effect. Superposition; standing waves, beats, interference. Phase and group velocity; dispersive and non-dispersive media. Complex exponential notation. Mechanical impedance. Reflection and transmission at boundaries.
The propagation of light (3 hours): Optical path length. Huygen's and Fermat's principles, Snell's Law. Reflection and refraction. Lenses; the focal plane. Geometric optics for thin lenses. Aberrations. Principles of the telescope and microscope.
Interference and diffraction (8 hours): Coherence. Young's slits experiment. The Michelson interferometer. The Fabry-Perot etalon. Interference between N equally spaced sources. Fraunhofer diffraction as far-field case. Derivation of Fraunhofer pattern for single slit. Discussion of circular aperture, diffraction limits on optical systems, definition of resolution, Rayleigh criterion. The diffraction grating. Resolving power of the telescope and grating.
Click here for further informationProgramme availability:

PH10005 is Compulsory on the following programmes:

Department of Physics
  • USPH-AFB01 : BSc (hons) Physics (Full-time) - Year 1
  • USPH-AFB05 : BSc (hons) Physics with Computing (Full-time) - Year 1
  • USPH-AKB06 : BSc (hons) Physics with Computing (with Placement) (Full-time with Thick Sandwich Placement) - Year 1
  • USPH-AAB06 : BSc (hons) Physics with Computing with Year Abroad (Full-time with Study Year Abroad) - Year 1
  • USPH-AKB02 : BSc (hons) Physics (with Placement) (Full-time with Thick Sandwich Placement) - Year 1
  • USPH-AAB02 : BSc (hons) Physics with Year Abroad (Full-time with Study Year Abroad) - Year 1
  • USPH-AFM02 : MPhys Physics (Full-time) - Year 1
  • USPH-AFM04 : MPhys Physics with Research Placement (Full-time) - Year 1
  • USPH-AAM03 : MPhys Physics with Year Abroad (Full-time with Study Year Abroad) - Year 1

NB. Programmes and units are subject to change at any time, in accordance with normal University procedures.