TFY4291 - Laser Physics and Nonlinear Optics


Examination arrangement

Examination arrangement: Aggregate score
Grade: Letter grades

Evaluation Weighting Duration Grade deviation Examination aids
Oral exam 50/100 1 hours G
Works 25/100
Works 25/100

Course content

The course provides an insight into the physical principles of operation of lasers and their applications in various areas of science and industry. It also provides fundamentals of nonlinear optics and interaction of light with matter and includes the following topics: ---Energy levels of atoms, semiconductors, and molecules. Selection rules ---Blackbody radiation, classical versus quantum description of interaction of light with matter, semi-classical approach. Wave Equation ---Interaction of light with an atom (non-bound and bound to crystal lattice) ---Absorption, spontaneous emission, and stimulated emission. Einstein coefficients, Einstein formula, saturation, oscillation threshold ---Rate equations for 3- and 4-level lasers ---Semiconductor lasers vs. solid-state & fiber lasers ---Laser line width. Line broadening mechanisms ---Gaussian beams and optical resonators. Operation regimes: CW, Q-switching and mode-locking of lasers ---Principles of nonlinear optics and dispersion management ---Ultra-short pulsed lasers and optical frequency combs ---Nonlinear optical frequency conversion, optical parametric conversion ---Laser applications in science, bio-medicine, telecommunications and industry.

Learning outcome

The course provides students with a working knowledge of laser physics and provides introduction into nonlinear optics and laser applications. As such, the course provides a physical basis for further study in optics and photonics, and application of lasers in various areas of life, science and industry. In addition it provides a good understanding of the critical laser parameters important for their use in various real-world and scientific applications such as: quantum optics, quantum technologies, telecommunications, industrial material processing, sensing, bio-medicine, imaging, ranging and automobile industry.

Acquired competences:

Students should:

- Be familiar with the operation and construction of lasers

- Know about the properties of laser radiation, and how laser beams propagate through optical materials and components

- Know about different types of laser

- Be familiar with how second-order nonlinear response in crystals can be used to convert laser radiation from one wavelength to another. Emphasis will be placed on intuitive understanding through simple mathematical descriptions.


Students should be able to:

- Calculate properties of black body radiation at different temperatures

- Estimate line widths and effective cross sections for different transitions

- Calculate thresholds and output effects in different laser media, and estimate pulse energies and pulse durations in Q-switched lasers

- Calculate how dispersion affects ultra-short laser pulses in optical materials

- Calculate how Gaussian rays propagate in free space

- Choose the laser with the right parameters for specific applications in the field of interest

Learning methods and activities

Lectures and laboratory demonstrations, three exercises and project work in the area of choice within the lecture content. The course will be given in English (if students on the international master program in physics are attending the course). Expected work load in the course is 225 hours.

Further on evaluation

Partial assessment: oral exam (50%) and two works that count for 25% each: lab demonstrations/exercises (25%) and a project work/presentation on a lecture topic of the students choice (25%).

As the teaching and teaching materials are in English, the exam will be given in English.

Resit exams in August (can be on Zoom).

Course materials

Lecture notes and course literature based on e-book(s) available through the NTNU library, and handouts.

More on the course



Version: 1
Credits:  7.5 SP
Study level: Second degree level


Term no.: 1
Teaching semester:  SPRING 2024

Language of instruction: English

Location: Trondheim

Subject area(s)
  • Electronics
  • Electronics and Telecommunications
  • General Physics
  • Medical Physics
  • Electrooptics/Biooptics
  • Astrophysics
  • Radiation Biophysics/Radiation Biology
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Polymer Physics
  • Molecular Biophysics
  • Petrophysics
  • Electron and Ion Physics
  • Applied Optics
  • Electrical Power Engineering
  • Petroleum Geophysics
  • Radiation Physics
  • Biophysics and Medical Technology
  • Materials Science and Solid State Physics
  • Biophysics
  • Solid State Physics
  • Quantum Optics
  • Optics
  • Theoretical Physics
  • Physics
  • Geophysics
  • Engineering
  • Nanotechnology
  • Life Sciences
  • Natural Sciences
Contact information
Course coordinator:

Department with academic responsibility
Department of Physics


Examination arrangement: Aggregate score

Term Status code Evaluation Weighting Examination aids Date Time Examination system Room *
Spring ORD Works 25/100
Room Building Number of candidates
Spring ORD Works 25/100
Room Building Number of candidates
Spring ORD Oral exam 50/100 G
Room Building Number of candidates
Summer UTS Oral exam 50/100 G
Room Building Number of candidates
  • * The location (room) for a written examination is published 3 days before examination date. If more than one room is listed, you will find your room at Studentweb.

For more information regarding registration for examination and examination procedures, see "Innsida - Exams"

More on examinations at NTNU