Course detail

Fundaments of Optics

FSI-TZOAcad. year: 2023/2024

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.

Language of instruction


Number of ECTS credits


Mode of study

Not applicable.

Entry knowledge

Successful completion of the course General Physics III

Rules for evaluation and completion of the course

Active participation in tutorials (75%) and two written tests. Examination: written test and oral examination.

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.


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.
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.

Study aids

Not applicable.

Prerequisites and corequisites

Not applicable.

Basic literature

Hecht, E.: Optics. Pearson, 2017. 
Born, M., Wolf, E.: Principles of Optics. Cambridge: University Press, 2005.
Malý. P.: Optika. Univerzita Karlova v Praze, Karolinum. 2013

Recommended reading

Haferkorn, H. - Richter, W.: Synthese optischer systeme. Berlin: VEB Deutscher Verlag, 1984. 
Liška, M.: Optické sešity. (Texty k přednáškám.) BRNO: VUT 2014/ 2015.
Goodman, J.W.: Introduction to Fourier Optics. 3rd ed. Englewood, Colorado: Roberts, 2005. 
Klein, M.V.: Optics. New York: Wiley, 1970.


Classification of course in study plans

  • Programme B-FIN-P Bachelor's, 3. year of study, winter semester, compulsory

  • Programme N-STG-P Master's

    specialization MTS , 1. year of study, winter semester, compulsory

  • Programme N-PMO-P Master's, 1. year of study, winter semester, compulsory-optional

Type of course unit



26 hours, optionally

Teacher / Lecturer


  1. Light as electromagnetic radiation. The wave function, superposition. Planar, cylindrical and spherical waves. Harmonic waves. Complex notation of harmonic waves. Maxwell equations. Wave energy.
  2. Polarization of light. Types of polarization. Description of polarization by means of harmonic functions and Jones vectors. Principles of light polarization. Optical activity.
  3. Optics of anisotropic media. Propagation of light in anisotropic media. Refractive index ellipsoid. Uniaxial and biaxial crystals. Polarization elements based on anisotropy.
  4. Foundations of geometrical optics. Eiconal equation, ray equation, Fermat principle, derivation of the law of refraction. Propagation of light. Scattering, reflection, refraction. Glass, dispersion, rainbow, prisms, mirrors.
  5. Geometrical theory of imaging. Paraxial space. Spherical boundary, lenses, mirrors. Cardinal points of the optical system, graphical solution of imaging.
  6. Matrix optics.
  7. Limitation of a ray packet in an optical system. Apertures types and their usage. Telecentric systems, resolution.
  8. Optical aberrations I - chromatic aberration, aberation function, Seidel aberrations, spherical aberration, coma.
  9. Optical aberrations II - astigmatism, curvature of field, correction. Matrix representacion, ray tracing.
  10. Basic optical systems. Eye. Microscopes.Telescopes. Spectrometers.
  11. Foundation of the theory of interference and coherence. Conditions of coherence. Interference law for two partially coherent waves.
  12. Two-beam and multiple-beam interference. Examples.
  13. Basics of the light diffraction theory. Huygens-Fresnel principle. Fresnel and Fraunhofer diffraction. Examples.

Laboratory exercise

26 hours, compulsory

Teacher / Lecturer


1. Polarisation
2. Diffraction
3. Goniometer
4. Thick lenses properties
5. Photometry
6. Fiber optics
7. Speed of light
8. Basic optical instruments
9. Liquid crystal display
10. Interference


26 hours, compulsory

Teacher / Lecturer


1. Maxwell's equation. Differential operators.
2. Wave equation and its solutions. Helmoltz equation.
3. Polarisation of light. Malus law.
4. Eikonal equation derivation. Solutions of the ray equation for simple media.
5. Fresnel formulae.
6. Description of an optical system by cardinal points and calculation of the parameters and properties of the system.
7. Imaging by means of mirrors, thin and thick lenses.
8. Chromatic and spherical aberration.
9. Basic optical instruments - examples.
10. Test.
11. Wave optics - interference.
12. Fraunhofer diffraction at apertures of various forms.
13. Test.