This third volume of the series Lectures in Optics provides a comprehensive presentation of the wave optics effects. The arguments underlying the concept of light—as either a wave or a particle—were part of the greatest revolution in physics, which, in the early 20th century, bore modern quantum and atomic optics. These fundamental advances set the stage for a crucial outcome, the laser. Many aspects of optics are strongly dependent on light’s wave nature, including polarization (owing to the vector nature of light), absorption and dispersion (owing to the complex nature of the refractive index and the quantum nature of the photon), as well as interference and diffraction. The latter two effects are perhaps the greatest manifestations of the wave nature of light and provide an excellent demonstration of the power and simplicity of Fourier optics. After covering all of these effects in detail, Wave Optics introduces the concepts involved in laser light and its applications, engaging a historical and didactic approach.
This book is suitable for advanced levels of Wave Optics courses in physics and engineering curricula, graduate programs, and professional programs, including optometric education. Each chapter ends with a simple yet adequate summary of the main points, aiming to reinforce an understanding of the covered material. Self-assessment is facilitated by ample practice examples, exercises, and quizzes.
Wave optics…geometrical optics—Are they that different? At first glance, perhaps yes. They appear to be almost unrelated. The physical properties of light primarily influence wave optics, while natural rectilinear propagation and the simple laws of reflection and refraction appear to be the main laws that govern geometrical optics.
Yet, upon diving into the details, one comes to realize that, while the location and size of an image are governed by simple geometrical laws, the fine details of an image, such as its resolution, are governed by the physical properties described by wave optics.
Light is ultimately a wave phenomenon. Hence, it is natural that a volume of this Lectures in Optics series should be devoted to presenting a view of optics deriving from electric field oscillations and waves. Wave optics concerns the nature of light, especially, its vector nature, its interaction with matter, the complexity of the refractive index, the interference of light with light, and realization of the infinitesimal wavelets that explain diffraction effects. Finally, wave optics and physical optics, as well as quantum optics, merge to form the principles of lasers.
The origins of this textbook can be traced back to the Laboratory Optics course that the author had the honor of teaching at the Department of Physics, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece. What grew out of that course text is an attempt to provide a modernized textbook based on updated lecture notes and the narrative flow of classroom instruction. Readers are expected to be knowledgeable of college-level mathematics, including algebra, trigonometry, linear algebra, ordinary differential equations, and partial differential equations.
A certain familiarity with vector notation and advanced calculus will be helpful, however, the derivation of certain results is outside the scope of this book and may not have to be emphasized upon, This book covers the essentials needed for any college-level Wave Optics curriculum in Physics and Engineering departments, as well as Optometric professional programs, and will be useful to those seeking a bottom-up textbook that foregoes a formal style and presents an attractive and updated perspective.