Prof. Xiaodong Xu
Office: PAB B437
Office Hours: During the labs or by appointment.
Telephone: 206-543-8444

Teaching Assistants

Ding Zhong (Mon. 1:30-4:30, Tue. 1:30-2:00)
Grades Fabry-Perot, Concave diffraction grating
Nathan Wilson (Tue. 1:30-4:30, Mon. 1:30-2:00)
Grades Michelson interferometer, Holography
Paul Nguyen (Wed. 1:30-4:30, Fri. 1:30-2:00)
Grades Speed of Light, Fraunhofer & Fresnel Diffraction
Bevin Huang (Fri. 1:30-4:30, Wed. 1:30-2:00)
Grades Faraday rotation, Dielectric reflection

Meeting Times and Locations

Lecture: Room A110, 11:30-12:20, Monday

Labs: Room B260
   Section AD: 1:30-4:20, Monday
   Section AA: 1:30-4:20, Tuesday
   Section AB: 1:30-4:20, Wednesday
   Section AC: 1:30-4:20, Friday

Essential Information

Syllabus: Explains course basics and grading. Gives reading assignments from the text.

Text: Optics, 4th ed., by Eugene Hecht (Addison Wesley, San Francisco, 2002). See the recommended readings.

Lab precautions, recording data and writing reports.

Lab report grading standards. Gives point allocations for the different parts of the lab report.

Basic Requirements


You must perform a total of six (6) experiments (including the speed-of-light experiment) and submit reports on them.

Pre-Lab Report

There is a pre-lab-report for each lab, except speed of light. You must submit at least 5 pre-lab reports. The pre-lab report will be limited to one page. The three questions you need to address are:

  1. What is the general purpose of lab? (2 points)
  2. What are the quantities you will directly measure and how do you measure them? (5 points)
  3. What are the quantities you will derive from the measurement and what are the formulas you will use? (3 points)

An example pre-lab report is given for the Speed of Light experiment (PDF).

Lecture notes (PDF)

  • Lecture 1. Course overview; Speed of light experiment; Error analysis.
  • Lecture 2. Fourier analysis; Michelson interferometer.
  • Lecture 3. Fabry-Perot interferometer.
  • Lecture 4. Fraunhofer and Fresnel diffraction.
  • Lecture 5. Diffraction gratings.
  • Lecture 6. Holography.
  • Lecture 7. Faraday rotation; polarization; Laws of reflection and refraction.
  • Lecture 8. Geometric optics 2: polarization; Brewster's angle.


Be sure to print out the instructions for your experiment (and read it through) before you come to lab. Most of the documentation is in Adobe PDF format. An overview of the experiments is available here.

Descriptions of the standard experiments.

You must complete either the Michelson Interferometer experiment, the Fabry-Perot experiment or the 1-d diffraction experiment before you attempt the Holography experiment.

JPEGs from the experimental write-ups are available.

Experimental Uncertainty and Error Analysis

The following links point to articles that give information on experimental uncertainty and how to calculate and present uncertainty in lab reports.

Laboratory Staff

Lab Manager

David B. Pengra
Office: PAB B256
Phone: 543-4783

Technical Support

Jason Alferness
Program Operations Specialist (aka "The Other Guy")
Phone: 206-221-2974