10 Credits SPRING

Cannot be taken with: PHY127

Co-requisites: PHY1001, PHY1002

Aims/Description: This module introduces the foundations of classical optics. In the Autumn semester, starting with Fermat┐s Principle of Least Time, we derive Snell┐s law and the working of lenses in geometrical optics. We give a quantitative description of telescopes and microscopes. We explore the limits of geometrical optics and show that a wave theory of optics is needed to explain phenomena like diffraction and interference. We will briefly touch the Mach-Zehnder interferometer and the Michelson-Morley interferometer that is used in gravitational wave detection. In the Spring semester we explore the electromagnetic nature of light, and present the polarisation (linear, circular, and elliptical). We introduce the concept of coherence, and use it to make a distinction between coherent light, such as that from a laser, and incoherent light from a light bulb or the Sun. Then we explore the properties of thermal light, including Wien┐s law, the Rayleigh-Jeans law, and how Planck reconciled their contradiction. Finally we discuss the implications of the constant speed of light, leading to the Lorentz transformations and the relativity of simultaneity.

Staff Contact: CADBY ASHLEY J
Teaching Methods: Lectures, Problem solving, Independent Study
Assessment: Formal Exam, Course work, Project/ portfolio

Information on the department responsible for this unit (Physics and Astronomy):

Departmental Home Page
Teaching timetable


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Teaching methods and assessment displayed on this page are indicative for 2021-22. Students will be informed by the academic department of any changes made necessary by the ongoing pandemic.

Western Bank, Sheffield, S10 2TN, UK