EE485 Introduction to Photonics


Schedule and Lecture Notes

Homework and Project


Meeting time: MW 10:30-12:20
Location: EEB 042

Instructor: Lih Y. Lin (lylin at uw)

Faculty webpage:
Office: EE M-414
Office hour: M 12:30-1:30 or by appointment

TA: Jingda (Albus) Wu (albuswu at uw )

Office: EE 253A
Office hour: MW 5:00-6:00 pm or by appointment


PHYS123 Waves OR EE361 Applied Electromagnetics, OR equivalent courses.

Course Description

This course is the pre-requisite to the new Photonics Capstone course EE 488. Information about the new EE Photonics Concentration Area can be found at

Optics - First enunciated by Euclid as Geometrical Optics or Ray Optics in his "Catoptrics" in 300 B.C., has evolved into a broad discipline elegantly formulated by a set of fundamental physical principles and rigorously developed mathematical equations. The long debate between geometrical optics and wave optics lead to Maxwell equations that founded electromagnetic optics. Mystery about absorption and emission was finally explained by quantum theory, which treated light as photons, in the beginning of 20th century.

Now widely referred as Photonics, which accounts for photon aspect of light and includes treatment on various photonic devices, this discipline has made rapid progresses and broad impacts in various fields in the last few decades, such as optoelectronic devices and systems, optical fiber communications, biophotonics, nanophotonics, new photonic materials and structures.

EE485 "Introduction to Photonics" will provide introductory lectures on fundamental optical principles and phenomena, as well as photonic devices and systems for electrical engineers. Fundamental principles will be accompanied by practical and contemporary examples. The class will also include hands-on practice with Lumerical Solutions to model the light field distribution in optical devices and systems. The topics we plan to cover are:

    Light as electromagnetic waves

  • Wave euqations
  • Harmonic waves
  • Electromagnetic waves
  • Energy flow and absorption
  • Fiber optics

    Polarized light

  • Matrix treatment of polarization
  • Reflection and refraction at dielectric interfaces
  • Polarization phenomena and devices

    Superposition of waves and interference

  • Two-beam interference and interferometry
  • Multi-wave interference
  • Fabry-Perot interferometer
  • Group/phase velociy and disperson


  • Fraunhofer diffraction
  • Diffraction grating
  • Fresnel diffraction

    Photon and laser basics

  • Photon properties
  • Laser basics
  • Characteristics of laser beams

    Laser operation

  • Rate equations
  • Gain media
  • Steady-state laser operation
  • Laser line broadening
  • Pulsed operation

    Nonlinear optics and light modulation

  • Second harmonic generation and frequency mixing
  • Electro-optic effects
  • Faraday effect and acoustic-optic effect


F. L. Pedrotti, L. S. Pedrotti, and L. M. Pedrotti, Introduction to Optics, 3rd ed., Prentice Hall. (on reserve in Engineering Library)

J. T. Verdeyen, Laser Electronics, 3rd ed., Prentice Hall.


Homework assignments: 30%
Midterm exam: 40%
Final project: 30%


Your feedback to this course is very welcome. Please click here to use a form which will let you send an anonymous email to the instructor and/or the TA.

Class EMail list

Click here to send an email to the whole class (ee485a_wi16 at uw).