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PH30032: Laser physics

Follow this link for further information on academic years Academic Year: 2014/5
Further information on owning departmentsOwning Department/School: Department of Physics
Further information on credits Credits: 6
Further information on unit levels Level: Honours (FHEQ level 6)
Further information on teaching periods Period: Semester 1
Further information on unit assessment Assessment Summary: EX 100%
Further information on unit assessment Assessment Detail:
  • Examination (EX 100%)
Further information on supplementary assessment Supplementary Assessment: Mandatory extra work (where allowed by programme regulations)
Further information on requisites Requisites: Before taking this unit you must (take PH20013 or take PH20060) and (take PH20014 or take PH20061) and take PH20020
Further information on descriptions Description: Aims:
The aims of this unit are to provide the theoretical background for what is required for laser action and then to show how this is achieved in real lasers.

Learning Outcomes:
After taking this unit the student should be able to:
* understand how light interacts with atoms in excited states, and how this can lead to stimulated emission and lasing.
* theoretically design simple laser resonators.
* analyse continuous and pulsed lasers and discuss how laser pulses are formed.
* compare the properties of different materials for use in practical lasers.

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

Interaction of light with matter (2 hours): Introduction, absorption, spontaneous and stimulated emission; lineshape and broadening mechanisms, gain and population inversion.
Conditions for oscillation (2 hours): Gain in 3 and 4 level systems, gain saturation, introduction to laser cavities, lasing threshold, output power in lasers above threshold, gain clamping, laser efficiency.
Optical beams and resonators (5 hours): Ray vectors and matrices, spherical waves, Gaussian beams. Rayleigh length, beam waist, phase front curvature. Resonators with parallel or curved mirrors; stability criterion. Optical modes in resonators, cavity Q factor and lifetime.
Types of gain medium (6 hours): Examples of specific lasers and pumping mechanisms: gas, dye, solid state, semiconductor and fibre lasers.
Pulsed lasers (5 hours): Q-switching. Modelocking; time-bandwidth product for pulses. Examples of pulsed lasers. Dispersion; Pulse spreading caused by group velocity dispersion, frequency chirp.
Frequency conversion (2 hours): second-harmonic generation, phase-matching.
Further information on programme availabilityProgramme availability:

PH30032 is Optional on the following programmes:

Programmes in Natural Sciences
  • UXXX-AFM01 : MSci(Hons) Natural Sciences (Year 3)
  • UXXX-AKM02 : MSci(Hons) Natural Sciences with Professional Placement (Year 4)
  • UXXX-AAM02 : MSci(Hons) Natural Sciences with Study year abroad (Year 4)
Department of Mathematical Sciences
  • USMA-AFM14 : MMath(Hons) Mathematics (Year 4)
  • USMA-AAM15 : MMath(Hons) Mathematics with Study year abroad (Year 4)
  • USMA-AKM15 : MMath(Hons) Mathematics with Year long work placement (Year 5)
Department of Physics
  • USXX-AFB03 : BSc(Hons) Mathematics and Physics (Year 3)
  • USXX-AAB04 : BSc(Hons) Mathematics and Physics with Study year abroad (Year 4)
  • USXX-AKB04 : BSc(Hons) Mathematics and Physics with Year long work placement (Year 4)
  • USXX-AFM01 : MSci(Hons) Mathematics and Physics (Year 3)
  • USXX-AAM01 : MSci(Hons) Mathematics and Physics with Study year abroad (Year 4)
  • USXX-AKM01 : MSci(Hons) Mathematics and Physics with Year long work placement (Year 4)
  • USPH-AFB01 : BSc(Hons) Physics (Year 3)
  • USPH-AAB02 : BSc(Hons) Physics with Study year abroad (Year 4)
  • USPH-AKB02 : BSc(Hons) Physics with Year long work placement (Year 4)
  • USPH-AFB09 : BSc Physics (Year 3)
  • USPH-AFM02 : MPhys(Hons) Physics (Year 3)
  • USPH-AKM04 : MPhys(Hons) Physics with Professional and Research Placements (Year 4)
  • USPH-AKM03 : MPhys(Hons) Physics with Professional Placement (Year 4)
  • USPH-AFM04 : MPhys(Hons) Physics with Research placement (Year 3)
  • USPH-AFB05 : BSc(Hons) Physics with Computing (Year 3)
  • USPH-AAB06 : BSc(Hons) Physics with Computing with Study year abroad (Year 4)
  • USPH-AKB06 : BSc(Hons) Physics with Computing with Year long work placement (Year 4)

* This unit catalogue is applicable for the 2014/15 academic year only. Students continuing their studies into 2015/16 and beyond should not assume that this unit will be available in future years in the format displayed here for 2014/15.
* Programmes and units are subject to change at any time, in accordance with normal University procedures.
* Availability of units will be subject to constraints such as staff availability, minimum and maximum group sizes, and timetabling factors as well as a student's ability to meet any pre-requisite rules.