Course detail

Fundaments of Optics

FSI-TZOAcad. year: 2019/2020

In the course basic principles of geometrical and wave optics are presented. Particular attention is paid to applications, especially to design of optical systems.
Contents of the course: light as electromagnetic radiation; the basic phenomena of wave optics; light propagation in an isotropic medium; fundamental laws of geometrical optics; basic optical systems; optics of anisotorpic media; light sources.

Learning outcomes of the course unit

Students will acquire basic knowledge needed for design and approximate calculations of optical systems. In the practicals students solve calculations of real optical systems focused on their practical utilisation.


Successful completion of the course General Physics III


Not applicable.

Recommended optional programme components

Not applicable.

Recommended or required reading

Born, M., Wolf, E.: Principles of optics. Cambridge: University Press, 2005. 952 p.
Fuka, J. - Havelka, B.: Optika a atomová fyzika I
Hecht, E., Zajac, A.: Optics. Amsterdam: Addison-Wesley, 1974. 576 p.
Hafekorn, H. - Richter, W.: Synthese optischer systeme. Berlin: VEB Deutscher Verlag, 1984. 343 p.
Liška, M.: Optické sešity. (Texty k přednáškám.) BRNO: VUT 2014/ 2015.
Goodman, J.W.: Introduction to Fourier Optics. 3rd ed. Englewood, Colorado: Roberts, 2005. 490 p.
Klein, M.V.: Optics. New York: Wiley, 1970. 647 p.

Planned learning activities and teaching methods

The course is taught through lectures explaining the basic principles and theory of the discipline. Exercises are focused on practical topics presented in lectures. Teaching is suplemented by practical laboratory work.

Assesment methods and criteria linked to learning outcomes

Active participation in tutorials (75%) and three written tests. Exam: written.

Language of instruction


Work placements

Not applicable.


The aim of the course is to acquaint students with the basic properties of optical materials from the geometrical and wave optics point of view, processes taking place at the interface of the optically isotropic environments, and properties of real optical components and their combination. Students will be able to apply this basic knowledge of geometrical optics when designing and constructing optical systems.

Specification of controlled education, way of implementation and compensation for absences

Attendance at the seminars and labs which are stated in the timetable is checked by the teacher. The form and date when missed lessons may be compensated for will be specified by the teacher.

Classification of course in study plans

  • Programme B3A-P Bachelor's

    branch B-FIN , 3. year of study, winter semester, 6 credits, compulsory

  • Programme M2A-P Master's

    branch M-PMO , 1. year of study, winter semester, 6 credits, compulsory-optional

  • Programme M2I-P Master's

    branch M-VAS , 1. year of study, winter semester, 6 credits, compulsory

Type of course unit



26 hours, optionally

Teacher / Lecturer


Light as electromagnetic radiation

History of optics.
The wave equation derived from Maxwell's equations (for homogeneous isotropic medium).
Planar, cylindrical and spherical waves.
Harmonic waves. Complex notation of harmonic waves.
The intensity of light.
Helmholtz equation.
Polarization of light. Types of polarization: linear, elliptical, circular.
Matrix description of polarization. Stokes vector, Jones vector, Jones matrix.

The basic phenomena of wave optics

Interference of light. Young's experiment. Temporal and spatial coherence of light.
Michelson interferometer.
Diffraction of light. Huygens-Fresnel principle. Fresnel and Fraunhofer diffraction. Examples of Fraunhofer diffraction: slit, grating, circular hole.
Fourier transform and its implementation using Fraunhofer diffraction. Abbe theory of optical imaging.

Light propagation in an isotropic environment

Laws of ray optics: reflection and refraction of light. Fresnel's formulas for reflection - total reflection, Brewster's angle.
Total internal reflection.
Applications: plane-parallel plate, prism, wedge prism, optical fibers.
Reflection from metal surfaces.

Fundamental laws of geometrical optics.
Index of refraction, dispersion of optical materials. Fermat's principle - law of refraction and reflection at the interface of two isotropic environments. Refraction on a spherical plane, passage of a ray through a system of spherical planes, cardinal points, principal planes, nodal points, definition of focal distance and magnification. Thick/thin lenses, imaging formula, lens system and its solution. Mirror imaging. Imaging of points at a common plane with tolerated unsharpness. Limitation of a ray packet in an optical system - fundamental characteristics of optical systems. Aberrations of optical systems, their classification and methods of their calculations, Herschel's and Abbe's conditions. Matrix optics.

Basic optical systems

Eye. Ametropia of the eye.
Lens. Microscopes.
Resolution (eye, microscope, telescope).
Collimator, autocollimator, examples of their use.

Optics of anisotropic media

Description of the anisotropic media. Light propagation in anisotropic media. Double refraction.
Light polarizers.
The transmission of the light true plane-parallel plate. Quarter-wave plate, half-wave plate. Polarizing beam splitter.
Artificially induced double refraction: with voltage in a solid, with the concentration of a solution, with electric field, with magnetic field.
Polarization devices.

Light sources

Thermal sources. Laws of the blackbody radiation.
Discharge tubes.
Electroluminescent light sources.

Laboratory exercise

26 hours, compulsory

Teacher / Lecturer


Determination of the refractive index of the planparallel-plate material from longitudinal picture shift.
Determination of a part of the spectral dispersion curve of refraction-prism material from minimal deviation conditions at several wavelengths.
Measurement of the radius of curvature of spherical optical surfaces.
Measurement of the focal length of thin lenses and optical systems.
Measurement of the angles of optical wedges and prisms utilizing interferometric methods. Presentation of the Askania interferometer.
Polarization of the natural light, methods to create plane-polarized light. Experimental determination of the Brewster angle and the angle of total refraction, and their use in the measurements of refraction indexes of different materials.


26 hours, compulsory

Teacher / Lecturer


Solution of the exercises. The topics will be given in advance.