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PX370 Optoelectronics and Laser Physics

Lecturer: Steve Dixon
Weighting: 7.5 CATS

Lasers produce coherent light, which can be used to carry information and energy. Semiconductor lasers, in particular, have become very important in the field of communication. This module covers the basic physics of laser action in the various types of laser and describes their applications in optoelectronics.

To provide an introduction to the physical principles upon which the laser and a number of other optoelectronic devices are based. To describe a number of different types of laser, second harmonic generation using lasers, modulators (both electro-opto and acousto-optic) and detectors such as the photodiode, avalanche photodiode and photomultiplier. To describe the properties of optical fibres and the likely requirements of an optical communication system.

At the end of the module you should:

  • understand the essential requirements for laser action in a material and be able to describe different types of laser.
  • be able to describe an optical modulator.
  • be able to describe light detectors such as the photodiode, avalanche photodiode and photomultiplier and be aware of their relative merits.
  • be able to describe optical fibres and to discuss which are the important parameters of these in an optical communications system.


Lasers: Spontaneous and stimulated emission, Einstein A and B coefficients; optical cavities, Fabry Perot; inversion mechanisms; examples of different types of laser; gas lasers, solid state optically pumped lasers, dye lasers, homojunction and heterojunction semiconductor diode lasers. Q switching; second harmonic generation. Optical modulators, electro-optic modulators, acousto-optic modulators. Light detectors, semiconductor diode detectors, Avalanche Photodiodes. Optical Fibres. Optical communications.

Commitment: 15 Lectures

Assessment: 1.5 hour examination

Recommended Text: J Wilson and JFB Hawkes, Optoelectronics, an Introduction, Prentice-Hall;

This module has on-line information available.

Leads from: PX263 Electromagnetic Theory and Optics