Title: Introductions to Lasers and Optics – Reference Guide for Instructors
This Reference Guide was developed by the National Center for Optics and Photonics Education (OP-TEC) as a resource for instructors teaching with Introduction to Lasers and Optics Student Guide.
Introduction to Lasers and Optics is an introductory course for students who have limited prior knowledge of lasers, optics, or photonics. The purpose of the course is to provide entering students with an overview of the technology and its applications. The modular course requires no prerequisites, and can be taught for one or two credits in the first term. The course contains 15 modules that cover topics such as the spectrum of light, laboratory safety, polarization, mirrors, and lenses. These modules can be used all together or faculty can select the appropriate number of modules to fit the desired breadth and depth of study for the course.
The Student Guide contains seven laboratory demonstrations and activities that illustrate key concepts and support hands-on learning. It is recommended that the activities be set up by a teaching assistant or instructor and used to demonstrate concepts discussed in the modules of the course. The seven demonstrations are Spectrum of Light, The Polarization of Light, Optical Filters, Prisms and Lenses, Interference and Diffraction with a Single Slit, Interference and Diffraction with a Pinhole, and Beam Divergence. This Reference Guide contains graphics that can be displayed or distributed to students while teaching the course. Digital copies of these graphics are available by request from OP-TEC.
The demonstrations can be performed with the same equipment used for OP-TEC’s college-level course, Fundamentals of Light and Lasers; the “foundation course” for Photonics Technology. It introduces the basic principles of light, lasers and laser safety that are needed to study specific types of laser systems. It also provides exposure to the topics that make up the foundation for studying the applications of lasers in telecommunications, electro-optical displays, biomedical equipment, manufacturing/materials processing, defense/homeland security, environmental monitoring, and nanotechnology.
Alternatively, schools can use the detailed equipment list in Appendix A to purchase equipment that is suitable for high schools at a lower cost; typically about $1,500 per lab station. While this equipment is not “industry-grade” it, nevertheless, supports hands-on learning and real-life demonstrations.
Another option for high schools to consider is an equipment kit available from the Midwest Photonics Education Center (MPEC), www.midwestphotonics.org. For approximately $2,500, schools can purchase a boxed kit, complete with case, which contains the necessary equipment for all the laboratory exercises in the Fundamentals of Light and Lasers course.
Author(s): OP-TEC: National Center for Optics and Photonics Education