Waves and Optics

Academic year
Subject Area
Language of Instruction
Mode of Delivery
ECTS Credits
1st Cycle Studies

Recommended Prerequisites

Algebra, Mathematical Analysis, General Physics, Electromagnetism.

Teaching Methods

Lectures with exposure of concepts and fundamental theories, and discussion of practical applications of these concepts.
Problem solving classes with typical examples of the subjects under  study;
Laboratory classes.

Learning Outcomes

Training objectives:
- Establish matrix theory to analyze actual optical systems and understand the limitations of these systems.
- Understand the propagation and interference of electromagnetic waves in various media and learn to analyze the refraction and reflection of waves between two distinct media;
- Understand the interferometric  techniques and  their applications.
- Understand the Fraunhofer diffraction and Fresnel diffraction and their essential aspects.
- Learn the basics of  fiber optics, lasers and holograms.

Generic skills:
- Competence in analysis and synthesis; Competence in oral and written communication; - Computer skills related to the scope of the study; Competence to solve problems; 
- Competence in critical reasoning; Ethical commitment; Adaptability to new situations;
- Creativity; Concern with quality; Competency in self-criticism and self-evaluation.

Work Placement(s)



1. Geometrical Optics: thick lenses; matrix analysis of optical systems;  the theory of Seidel aberrations ; computational analysis of optical systems.
2. Waves: 1, 2 and 3D progressive waves ; superposition of waves; 2D and 3D standing waves; wave packets; group velocity.
3. Electromagnetic waves: dispersive optical media; polarization of light; birefringence; Fresnel equations.
4. Interference and Interferometry: dielectric films; interference by multiple reflection; Michelson interferometer;
5. Fraunhofer diffraction and Fresnel Diffraction.
6. Fiber optics, lasers and holography: analysis of the physical concept  and applications.

Head Lecturer(s)

Francisco Paulo de Sá Campos Gil

Assessment Methods

Assessment A
Laboratory work or Field work: 20.0%
Exam: 80.0%

Assessment B
Laboratory work or Field work: 20.0%
Frequency: 80.0%


1. E. Hecht, "Óptica", Ed. C. Gulbenkian;

2. F. L. Pedrotti, L. S. Pedrotti, "Introduction to Optics",  1992;

3. M. Ferreira, "Óptica e Fotónica", Lidel, 2003;

4. A. P. French, "Vibrations and Waves"

5. "Física Experimental: uma introdução", C. Abreu et al.