ECE 240A: Lasers and Optics

4 units. Prerequisites: Undergraduate level coursework on optics, optoelectronics and introductory quantum mechanics.

Lectures: Tuesday and Thursday, 3:30 pm to 4:50 pm, HSS 2152.

Overview: This is a graduate level class on the fundamentals of laser oscillation. We cover topics in diffraction and wave propagation, Gaussian beam optics and resonators, stimulated and spontaneous emission, gain and laser oscillation. We will also discuss the spectral properties of laser oscillation.

With reference to Siegman's book (see below), we will cover "Basic Laser Physics" (in more depth than in the book) and "Optical Beams and Resonators" (in less depth), and maybe have time left over for some sections of "Laser Dynamics and Advanced Topics".

A. Yariv, "Quantum Electronics" 3rd edition (Wiley, New York, 1989)
Chapters 4-10 (fields, resonators, gain, and lasers), 20 (mode locking, Q-switching), 21 (spectra and noise).

S. Ramo, J. R. Whinnery and T. Van Duzer, "Fields and Waves in Communication Electronics, 3rd edition (Wiley, New York, 1994)
Chapters 6 (plane waves), 7-9 and 14 (waveguides) and 10 (resonators)

J. T. Verdeyen, "Laser Electronics" 3rd edition (Prentice Hall, New Jersey, 2000)
An undergraduate-level textbook, from which we will cover most topics in more depth, possibly excepting Chapters 11, 16 and 17.

Specialized references:
L. Allen and J. H. Eberly, "Optical Resonance and Two-level Atoms" (Dover, New York, 1987)
P. Meystre and M. Sargent III, "Elements of Quantum Optics" 3rd edition (Springer, Berlin, 1999)
A. E. Siegman, "Lasers" (University Science Books, 1986)
S. Stenholm, "Foundations of Laser Spectroscopy" (Dover, New York, 2005)
A. Yariv and P. Yeh, "Photonics" 6th edition (Oxford University Press, New York, 2007)
P. Yeh, "Optical Waves in Layered Media" (Wiley, New Jersey, 2005)

Contact Information

Prof. Shayan Mookherjea EBU1 3203, x 44483, mookherjea (at) Office hours: Wednesday 2 pm to 3 pm, EBU1 3203 and by appointment.
Travis Spackman EBU1 5601, x24697, tspackman (at)

Schedule of topics

Thursday, September 25 1D wave equation: modal solutions and expansion of the field in terms of a basis set Temporary URL
Tuesday, September 30 Symmetric slab (3-layer) dielectric waveguide (review) Lecture notes
RWVD 14.7
Thursday, October 2 Radiation of a guided mode into free space (2D) - far field radiation pattern as the Fourier Transform of the mode
Evaluation of the diffraction integral by the method of stationary phase
Lecture notes
Tuesday, October 7 Facet reflectivity: plane-wave expansion of the waveguide mode, Fresnel reflection Lecture notes
Thursday, October 9 Fabry-Perot resonator and laser Lecture notes
Siegman, Chapter 11 "Laser mirrors and regenerative feedback"
Tuesday, October 14 Gaussian beams: ABCD matrix description, bilinear transformation Yariv QE, Ch. 6.5-6.7, 6.9
RWVD 14.6, 14.13-14.16
Siegman 15.1, 16.1-16.4, 17.1-17.5, 20.2
Thursday, October 16 Gaussian beam resonator: the self-consistent method, mode-stability diagram, resonance frequenciesYariv QE, Ch 7.1-7.3
Siegman, 19.1-19.3
Tuesday, October 21 Microresonators Lecture notes
More details
Thursday, October 23 Negative index materials. Lecture notes
Thursday, October 30 Acoustic lattice vibrations and their (bosonic) quantization.Yariv QE, Ch. 4
Lecture notes
Tuesday, November 4 (contd.) average thermal excitation
Blackbody energy density
Yariv QE, Ch. 4
Notes on statistics (counting).
Thursday, November 6 Field quantization (plane wave), and derivation of H'=-e r.E Yariv QE, Appendix 5
Stenholm, Sec. 6.1-6.3
Lecture notes (quantization)
Lecture notes (Fermi's Golden Rule)
Tuesday, November 18 Stimulated and spontaneous transitions
Intensity gain coefficient
Weisskopf-Wigner theory of spontaneous emission
Yariv QE, Section 8.3-8.4
Stenholm, p. 237 - 239
Lecture notes
Lecture notes
Thursday, November 20 Gain saturation (homogeneous/inhomogeneous)
Laser oscillation: gain threshold.
Yariv, QE, Sec. 9.1
Lecture notes (lineshape, saturation)
Lecture notes (oscillation)
Tuesday, November 25 Selection rules for electronic transitions. L.I. Schiff, Quantum Mechanics (3rd ed.), pp. 416-417
Also, Yariv QE, Appendix 3
Tuesday, December 2 Derivation of rate equations from the density matrix
Optimum output coupling condition
Yariv QE, Sec. 8.1, 8.4
Yariv QE, Sec. 9.3
Stenholm, Ch. 1.5-1.6
Lecture notes
Thursday, December 4 Laser linewidth Lecture notes

[Due 10/23] Hwk No. 1 (PDF): Thin film waveguide, and cleaved-facet reflectivity. Solutions (removed for next year's class; email the instructor).
[Do not turn in] Hwk No. 2 (PDF): Resonators and interferometers.
[Due 11/06] Hwk No. 3 (PDF): Waveguides (contd.) and Gaussian beam optics. Solutions (removed).
[Due 12/04] Hwk No. 4 (PDF): Field-induced atomic transitions. Solutions (removed).
[Due 12/04] Hwk No. 5 (PDF): HeNe laser: broadening, threshold inversion and pumping requirement, output coupling. Solutions (removed).

Final exam: Monday December 8, 3 - 6 pm. Location WLH 2115.

Graded final exams may be picked up from Travis Spackman, EBU1 5600, during normal working hours. Please bring your ID. You may consult a copy of the solutions with him. Final grades will be assigned via the Registrar's office next week, so please do not ask him (or me) at this time!

Term paper: Optional. If you choose to do it, the score on the final will be averaged with the score on the term paper. Length: 10 pages or more in OSA format (style files) or about 4 pages in the Phys. Rev. Lett. formatted style (revtex4). It should be a technical review paper of a topic covered in class, with references, graphs and numbers, not a high-level "executive summary" or an Optics and Photonics News style introduction. Due: December 8 at the final exam, no extensions.

Course policies

The course grade will be based on homework assignments (2/3) and the final examination/assignment (1/3). A student who does not turn in all homework assigments on time (or without prior permission for late submission from the instructor) will fail the course.

Attempt every homework problem by yourself. If you have completed the problem, you may compare answers with other students who have completed the problem; if your answers disagree, independently rework the problem until you're satisfied. You may discuss the problem with the instructors, the TA's or other students in general terms. You may discuss the lectures, text or associated readings with anybody. You are required to work completely independently for the exam, which will be proctored. Details regarding allowed references etc. will be announced at least one week in advance of the exam, and must be adhered to.

Any student violating UCSD's Academic Dishonesty or UCSD's Student Conduct policies will earn an F in the course and will be reported for administrative processing. Committing acts that violate Student Conduct policies that result in course disruption are cause for suspension or dismissal from UCSD. Please familiarize yourself with the UCSD Policy on Integrity of Scholarship.

Copyright © 2008 Shayan Mookherjea. All rights reserved.