Undergraduate Teaching

Engineering Tripos Part IIB, 4B11: Photonic Systems, 2021-22

Engineering Tripos Part IIB, 4B11: Photonic Systems, 2021-22

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Module Leader

Prof T Wilkinson


Prof T Wilkinson

Timing and Structure

Michaelmas term. 14 lectures. Assessment: 100% exam


3B6 useful


The aims of the course are to:

  • understand how Fourier optics can be used to manipulate light in many applications
  • examine the advance of optical techniques into electronic systems for computation and communications.
  • investigage the technology behind such potential applications


As specific objectives, by the end of the course students should be able to:

  • a simple introduction to optical diffraction and Fourier optics.
  • apply Fourier techniques to simple optical spatial patterns.
  • understand the principles of optical correlation and holography.
  • understand the basic principles of liquid crystal phase modulation.
  • explain the principles and construction of spatial light modulators (SLMs).
  • understand the basic principles of free space optical systems and how to build them
  • know the basic function of adaptive optical systems.
  • understand the properties of optical aberrations and how to correct them.


The aim of this module is to examine the advance of optical techniques into electronic systems for computation and communications. Two dimensional and three dimensional transmission, storage and processing of information using free space optics are discussed. Applications such as computer generated holography, optical correlation, optical switching and adaptive optics are highlighted through the use of liquid crystal technology.

Fourier Holograms and Correlation (5L)

  • Basic diffraction theory, Huygens principle
  • Fourier Transforms and Holography introduction and motivation;
  • Fourier transforms: theoretical and with lenses: resolution of optical systems;
  • Correlation and convolution of 2-dimensional signal patterns;
  • Dynamic and fixed phase computer generated holograms.

Electro-Optic Systems (5L)

  • Free space optical components; wave plates and Jones matrices
  • Fundamentals of liquid crystal phase modulation
  • Spatial light modulation and optical systems;
  • Holographic interconnects and fibre to fibre switching
  • Wavelength filters and routing systems
  • The BPOMF and 1/f JTC correlators.

Adaptive optical Systems (4L)

  • Adaptive systems in free space optics;
  • The power of phase conjugation;
  • Adaptive optical interconnects;
  • Optical aberrations and optical correction techniques;

Demonstrations in the lectures will include:

  1. 2D Fourier transform and diffraction patterns.
  2. Computer generated hologram for optical fan-out.
  3. Optical beam steering with dynamic holograms on SLMs.
  4. The JTC


Please refer to the Booklist for Part IIB Courses for references to this module, this can be found on the associated Moodle course.

Examination Guidelines

Please refer to Form & conduct of the examinations.


The UK Standard for Professional Engineering Competence (UK-SPEC) describes the requirements that have to be met in order to become a Chartered Engineer, and gives examples of ways of doing this.

UK-SPEC is published by the Engineering Council on behalf of the UK engineering profession. The standard has been developed, and is regularly updated, by panels representing professional engineering institutions, employers and engineering educators. Of particular relevance here is the 'Accreditation of Higher Education Programmes' (AHEP) document which sets out the standard for degree accreditation.

The Output Standards Matrices indicate where each of the Output Criteria as specified in the AHEP 3rd edition document is addressed within the Engineering and Manufacturing Engineering Triposes.

Last modified: 20/05/2021 07:42