PHYS 306: The Physics of Waves

Spring 2008

Courtesy: Roger McLassus (improved by DemonDeLuxe, Sep 2006)


Course Description: Prerequisite: PHYS 262; corequisite: MATH 214. Vibrating string, plane waves, interference, diffraction, polarization, electromagnetic waves, dispersion, and relativity.

Course Web Site:

Course Textbook: "Optics", by Eugene Hecht, Fourth Edition

Instructor:  Shobita Satyapal
                     ST1: Room 319
                     tel: 703-993-1283,  fax: 703-993-1269
                     email: satyapal at

Office Hours:   Tuesdays and Thursdays 4:15-5:15 pm (or by appointment) in ST1 rm 319

Course Meetings:   Tuesdays and Thursdays 3-4:15 pm  in ST1 rm 310

Final Exam:   Tuesday May 13th 1:30-4:15pm in ST1 rm 310

Grading:  Homework = 30%, Tests = 22.5% each, Final = 25%

Tentative Schedule:

Class Date    Material Covered      Notes    Homework

Tu 22 Jan            Ch 2                         Lec 1

Th 24 Jan            Ch 2                         Lec 2

Tu 29 Jan            Ch 2                         Lec 3        HW1 due

Th 31 Jan        Reflections (handout)     Lec 4

Tu 5 Feb             Ch 7                         Lec 5        HW2 due

Th 7 Feb             Ch 7                         Lec 6

Tu 12 Feb           Ch 11                       Lec 7        HW3 due

Th 14 Feb           2D waves (handout)  Lec 8

Tu  19 Feb            Test 1                                      HW4 due

Th 21 Feb           2D waves                 Lec 9       

Tu 26 Feb            Sound                     Lec 10       HW5 due

Th 28 Feb            EM waveguides       Lec 11

Tu 4 Mar              Ch9 (Interference)   Lec 12      HW6 due

Th 6 Mar               Interferometers       Lec 13


10 Mar - 16 Mar SPRING BREAK


Tu 18 Mar           Ch12 (Coherence)    Lec 14      HW7 due

Th 20 Mar           Ch 8 (Polarization)    Lec 15

Tu 25 Mar           Ch 10 (Diffraction)    Lec 16      HW8 due

Th 27 Mar           Ch 10                       Lec 17

Tu 1 Apr              Ch 10 (gratings)        Lec 18      HW9 due

Th 3 Apr               Fresnel Equations     Lec 19

Tu 8 Apr                Test 2                                    HW10 due

Th 10 Apr            Fresnel Equations      Lec 20     

Tu 15 Apr            Ch 13 (Lasers)          Lec 21     HW11 due

Th 17 Apr            Ch 13                        Lec 22   

Tu 22 Apr            Fiber Optics              Lec 23    HW12 due

Th 24 Apr            Fiber Optics              Lec 24

Tu 29 Apr            Optical Properties      Lec 25    HW13 due

Th 1 May             Optical Properties      Lec 26

A Note about homework assignments: Homework problems will be assigned roughly weekly, and will be posted on the website under the date they are due. Homeworks are due at the beginning of the class, i.e., at 3pm. You are encouraged to work on your homework assignments together in small groups, BUT copying homework from each other is not permitted. Full marks will only be given for homework where the full work is shown. Because solutions will be given out at the same time as the homework is handed in, no late homework will be accepted, except with a VALID medical excuse. If you cannot make it to class to hand in the homework assignment, please make arrangements to hand it in before the due date. The lowest homework grade will be dropped.

A Note about exams: All exams are closed-book. Calculators will be needed for quantitative problems. It is the responsibility of each student to attend classes during scheduled examinations as listed in the syllabus regardless of work or family considerations. Make-up exams will be given only to students with a VALID medical excuse and they should contact the instructor as soon as they return to school. The final exam will be comprehensive.