Physics 402

Spring 2017


The 402 midterm exam will take place in class on Thursday, March 16, 11 am - 12:30 pm.


The exam will cover the content of lectures 1-11 and associated reading material. Emphasis will be placed on material specifically discussed in class and in the lecture notes.

The exam will be “open book,” meaning that you may bring any course-related print materials to the exam, including the text, lecture notes, graded homeworks, lab writeups, etc. Electronic materials (laptops, smartphones, tablets, etc.) are not permitted.

Here are two sample exams so you can see the style and length of past midterms: Spring ’16 , Fall ‘16


Welcome to Physics 402 !

Physics 402 is a comprehensive course on the fundamentals of (mainly) classical optics, covering concepts in geometric optics and action principles, matrix techniques for ray tracing, mechanics of classical waves with emphasis on energy and momentum, radiation, light in matter and optical dispersion, polarization effects such as birefringence, wave packets, optical modulators such as phase retarders, interferometry, Kirchhoff and Fresnel theories of diffraction, nonlinear optics, holography, and basic concepts in quantum optics.

This course is aimed at advanced undergraduates and graduate students in Physics, Chemistry, Materials Science, and other areas of science or engineering, who plan to pursue research or a career in optics or who simply are interested in deepening their knowledge of the subject. The purpose of this course is not to teach all of optics, which could never be covered in a single course, but to cover the foundations of the subject in enough depth to prepare you for any area of specialization.


Physics 402 General Information

Physics 402 sequence provides a comprehensive introduction to the basics of the field of Optics, including geometric optics, ray tracing and the matrix formalism, microscopy, Maxwell’s equations, dispersion, Fresnel formulas, polarization, interference and interferometry, diffraction and scattering, Fourier optics, interferometry, holography, and some special topics in nonlinear and quantum optics.

Lectures will be held on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11-12:20 pm.

Labs will meet Thursdays 1-3:50 pm (section BL1) and Fridays 1-3:50 pm (section BL2). 

Lecture meets in 158 Loomis.

Labs meet in 6107 Engineering Sciences Building (with some experiments residing in 5106 ESB)

Course Texts:

  • Optics, 4th Edition, Eugene Hecht

Course staff:

Instructor: Prof. Peter Abbamonte
Office: 104 Materials Research Laboratory (not to be confused with MSEB)
Office Hours: Mondays 1-1:50 pm or by appointment
phone: 244-4861


Lecturer: Yulia Maximenko

Office: B49 Materials Research Laboratory

Office Hour: by appointment



Lab TA: Brian Enders

Office: 6107 ESB

Office Hour: Thursdays 4-5 pm



Lab TA: Dominic Biava

Office: 279 Loomis

Office Hour: Thursdays 10-11 am



Grader: Sangjun Lee

Office: 279 Loomis

Office Hour: Wednesdays 2-3 pm


Course Information and Policies

Course syllabus, Homework, and Discussion

Grade Book