Academic Year 2022/2023 - Teacher: MARIA JOSE' IRENE LO FARO

Expected Learning Outcomes

This course provides the fundamentals working principle of photonics - the science at the basis of emission, control, and the detection of light quanta - and its main applications in material science.

Knowledge and understanding: Critical understanding of the most advanced developments in Modern Physics both in theoretical and laboratory aspects and their interconnections, also in interdisciplinary fields. Adequate knowledge of advanced mathematical and computer tools currently in use in the fields of basic and applied research. Remarkable mastery of the scientific method, and understanding of the nature and procedures of research in Physics.

Ability to apply knowledge: Ability to identify the essential elements of a phenomenon, in terms of order of magnitude and level of approximation required, and be able to make the required approximations.

Autonomy of judgment: Ability to argue personal interpretations of physical phenomena, comparing themselves in the context of working groups. Development of a sense of responsibility through the choice of elective courses and the topic of the degree thesis.

Communication skills: Ability to communicate in Italian and English in the advanced sectors of Physics.

Learning skills: Ability to acquire adequate cognitive tools for the continuous updating of knowledge. Ability to access specialized literature both in the chosen field and in scientifically close fields. Ability to use databases and bibliographic and scientific resources to extract information and ideas to better frame and develop their study and research work. Ability to acquire, through self-study, knowledge in new scientific fields.

Course Structure

Frontal teaching, material will be provided in class.
Distance learning following specific ministerial and university indications

Required Prerequisites

Notions of electromagnetism, notions of quantum mechanics, basic knowledge on semiconductors

Attendance of Lessons

Mendatory attendance in compliance with the University regulations

Detailed Course Content

Optical Amplification and Atomic Lasers (10h)

Radiation-Matter Interaction - Absorbance, Spontaneous and stimulated emission – Einstein coefficients and Blackbody Radiation; Optical Gain and rate equation – Optical amplification and saturation in 3 and 4 level systems; Lasing Principles - Fabry-Perot Cavity – Finesse and optical modes; Atomic-like Lasers: NH3 maser - Ruby laser – Nd laser – He-Ne laser.

Waveguides and Optical Fibers (8h)

Ideal waveguides and Dielectric planar waveguides - Optical coupling, switching, interferometers, and modulators Optical fibers – attenuation and dispersion - amplification in optical fibers Materials for optical communication, and biophotonic applications

Semiconductor Lasers and LEDs and main photonics materials (8h)

Optical gain in semiconductors - Laser diodes – Heterostructured Lasers – Quantum cascade lasers Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) working principles and fundamentals; Lasing Materials: Lasers and LEDs based on III-V & II-VI semiconductors; Rare earth; optoelectronic nanodevices based on quantum dots, quantum wires, and heterostructures, optical crystals for optical parameter oscillators (OPO) for quasi continuum and tuneable lasers.

Detectors, LEDs, Solar Cells and Sensors (10h)

Photon detectors - Single photon detectors - LEDs with III-V and II-VI semiconductors - Extraction efficiency - Quantum efficiency - Rare earths - Si: Er LEDs - Quantum dots and quantum wires - Nano and heterostructure LEDs - Solar cells - Optical modulators - Optical sensors - Raman scattering and SERS

Light propagation in Photonic Crystals, Metamaterials, and Disordered structures (6h)

Working principles of light propagation in ordered periodic structures with different dimensionality – Nanocavity – Purcell Effect – Photonic Crystal Lasers – Metamaterials; Quasiperiodic and disordered photonic structures – light transport and interference effect; Materials for biophotonics and applications in optical computing. Ultrafast and Pulsed Laser, Q switching - Mode-locking.

Textbook Information

  1. Saleh & Teich, Fundamentals of Photonics, John Wiley & Sons Inc.
  2. O. Svelto, Principles of Lasers, Plenum Press
  3. J.D. Joannopoulos, S.G. Johnson, J.N. Winn, R.D. Meade, Photonic Crystals: Molding the Flow of Light, Princeton University Press
  4. S.G. Johnson, J.D. Joannopoulos, Photonic Crystals: The Road from Theory to Practice,
  5. W. Cai & V. M. Shalaev, Optical Metamaterials. Springer
  6. L. Novotny & B. Hecht, Principles of Nano-Optics, Cambridge University Press
  7. S. M. Sze, Physics of Semiconductor Devices, John Wiley & Sons Inc.
  8. Kluwer V.V. Mitin, V.A. Kochelap, M.A. Stroscio, Quantum Heterostructures: Microelectronics and Optoelectronics.
  9. P. Sheng, Introduction to Wave Scattering, Localization and Mesoscopic Phenomena, Springer, New York, 2nd ed.
  10. E. Akkermans & G. Montambaux, Mesoscopic Physics of Electrons and Photon, Cambridge University Press

Course Planning

 SubjectsText References
1Optical amplification; Atomic Lasers1,2
2Waveguides, Optical fibers1
3Semiconductor LED Introduction to semiconductor junctions, p-n junction, LEDs with III-V and II-VI semiconductors, Rare earths, Si: Er LEDs, Quantum dots and quantum wires, Nano and heterostructure LEDs, Optical gain in semiconductors, Diode Lasers, Heterostructure lasers, VCSELs, Low-dimensional lasers, Pulsed and ultrafast lasers Q switching, Mode-locking2,7
4Photonic Crystals3,4
7Solar Cells and Light Detectors Solar Cells, Photon Detectors, Single Photon Detectors, Quantum Efficiency7
8Raman scattering and SERS6
9Electronic and optical transport in disordered materials: ballistic regime, diffusive and localized regime.9,10


Learning Assessment Procedures


The exam consists of an oral test consisting of a presentation developed by the student on a topic relating to the course program and agreed with the teachers. Taking a cue from the presentation developed by the student, questions about the remainder of the program will follow. The evaluation will take into account the level of depth of the topic, the knowledge of the basic topics, the property of language, the clarity of presentation, the ability to identify applications, including interdisciplinary ones.

Verification of learning can also be carried out electronically, should the conditions require it.


For the oral exam there are 2 exam sessions in the first exam session period, 2 exam sessions in the second exam session period and 2 exam sessions in the third exam session period.

There are also 2 sessions reserved for students who are out of course and laggards (paragraphs 5 and 5 bis of the university teaching regulations) during the suspension of teaching activities, generally in the period April / May or November / December.

There are no further exams beyond those approved by the didactic secretariat.

Consult the Exam Calendar at the website:

Examples of frequently asked questions and / or exercises

All the topics present in the program, in equal measure, will be subject to question.

Example question 1: Describe the principle of operation of a laser

Example question 2: Describe the phenomenon of dispersion in optical fibers

Example question 3: Describe the operating principles of a solar cell