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PHYS 331 A: Optics Laboratory

Meeting Time: 
M 11:30am - 12:20pm
PAA A110
Jason Detwiler Portrait
Jason Detwiler

Syllabus Description:

PHYS 331: Optics Laboratory, Autumn 2017

Instructor: Jason Detwiler (
Office: PAB B444
Office hours: Mondays 12:30-1:20

Lab Manager: David Pengra (
Office: PAB B256
Phone: 543-4783

Sebastian Alvis ( Grades Concave Diffraction Grating and Reflection from a Dielectric Surface
Paul Nguyen ( Grades Speed-of-Light and pre-lecture questions
Francis Walsh ( Grades Holography and Homework
Wenjin Zhao ( Grades Fresnel and Fraunhofer Diffraction and Faraday Rotation
Liudmila Zhukas ( Grades Michelson Interferometer and Fabry-Perot Interferometer


Lecture Time: Mondays 11:30-12:20 pm, PAA A110.

The first day of lecture is October 2. November 21 is reserved for make-up lecture. There will be an in-class exam on the last lecture period on December 5.


Labs: Room PAB B260

  • Section AD (Walsh / Nguyen): Mondays 1:30-4:20 (sign-ups)
  • Section AA (Zhukas / Alvis): Tuesdays 1:30-4:20 (sign-ups)
  • Section AB (Zhao / Walsh): Wednesdays 1:30-4:20 (sign-ups)
  • Section AE (Alvis / Zhukas): Thursdays 1:30-4:20 (sign-ups)
  • Section AC (Nguyen / Zhao): Fridays 1:30-4:20 (sign-ups)

No labs will be held on September 27-29. Section AC will have no lab on Friday, November 10 (Veterans Day). No labs are scheduled for November 20-22 or December 4-7 (section AC will have lab on December 8).


Course Materials

The text book for this course is Optics, 5th ed., by Eugene Hecht (Pearson, 2016).

You will also need some form of notebook for taking notes during your experiments.

Course Handouts:

Additional Handouts:


Experiments: There are 8 experiments and you will perform a new lab each week. You will be graded only on your best 6 labs, so you can stop after you complete 6 if you like. The first is required to be the Speed of Light experiment.


Pre-Lab Assignments: Except for the Speed of Light experiment, you must submit pre-lab assigments (according to the format specified in lecture) due at 1:30 pm on the day you perform your experiments.  The pre-lab assignment is a one page write up, including your understanding of the purpose of the experiment, the outline of experimental procedures, the physical quantities you are going to measure directly, and the physical quantities you will derive from the measurements.  Late submissions will be awarded no credit.

Click here to view a sample pre-lab assignment.


Lab Reports: Lab groups will submit a joint lab report that they prepare together. You must submit lab reports according to the format specified in the Lab Report Grading Standards handout for all performed experiments. Submissions will be made online using canvas. Examples of good lab reports from previous years can be downloaded here and here (links coming soon).

Lab reports are due by 1:30 PM one week after you complete each experiment. Late submissions will be penalized at 5% per late day, including weekends and holidays. The last day for lab report submission is Friday December 15 at 5pm.


Exam: There will be one in-class (final) exam to be given on December 4 on material covered in lectures. You may prepare one 8.5"x11" page of notes (front and back). Bring a pocket calculator. Write solutions on the exam paper.


Grading: Each lab report, graded out of 50 points, is worth 12.5% of the total grade. The final exam is worth 10% of your grade. Pre-lab reports, graded out of 10 points, are worth 5% of your total grade. Pre-lecture and in-lecture questions account for 3% and 2% of your grade, respectively. Lecture homework accounts for the last 5% of your grade. Adjustments will be made for any differences in average scores on a given experiment or exam.

Students who submit all eight reports may receive writing credit (W) for the course.

Important: To be eligible for getting a final grade for Physics 331, you must submit the speed of light report by Monday Oct. 23, and at least two additional full reports by the start of your lab section on the week of Nov. 13th.

Catalog Description: 
Measurements of interference and diffraction, optical properties of matter, image processing, interferometry, holography. Prerequisite: PHYS 228. Offered: A.
GE Requirements: 
Natural Sciences (NSc)
Section Type: 
Last updated: 
October 17, 2018 - 9:19pm