PHYM015 Quantum Optics and Photonics 2017-18
Dr T. Philbin
Delivery Weeks: T1:01-11
Level: 7 (NQF)
Credits: 15 NICATS / 7.5 ECTS
Enrolment: 14 students (approx)


This module explores how light may be controlled and guided, and how quantum physics may be harnessed in the future to offer new and exciting opportunities in manipulating light. This module will range over basic physics and topical applications. Topics include: waveguides and optical fibre; lasers; amplifiers; nonlinear optics; polarization, optical activity and birefringence, orbital angular momentum; entangled states; cavity QED; novel light sources; photonic crystals, negative index materials.

Module Aims

This module aims to develop a detailed understanding of the physics that underpins photonics and a familiarity with topics at the forefront of current optics research, such as the production and manipulation of light in special states.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

A student who has passed this module should be able to:

Syllabus Plan

  1. Quantum mechanics
    Dirac notation, Schroedinger, Heisenberg and interaction pictures. Composite systems and entanglement.
  2. Quantisation of the electromagnetic field
    Maxwell's equations, electromagnetic waves and their relation to harmonic oscillators. Quantum electromagnetic waves. Fock states. Electromagnetic zero-point energy.
  3. Thermal radiation and fluctuations in photon number
  4. Single-mode quantum light
    Field and quadrature operators.
  5. Single-mode number states
  6. Light-atom interactions
    Electric-dipole approximation. Perturbation theory. Absorption, stimulated and spontaneous emission, Einstein's A and B coefficients.
  7. Single-mode coherent states and their relation to classical light
  8. Beam splitters and single-photon interference
  9. The Mach-Zehnder interferometer
  10. Two-photon interference and the Hong-Ou-Mandel effect
  11. Nonlinear optics
    Non-linear polarization. The slowly-varying-amplitude approximation.
  12. Nonlinear fiber optics
    The nonlinear Schroedinger equation. Optical solitons.
  13. Parametric down-conversion and squeezed states
  14. Quantum teleportation
    The no-cloning theorem. Entangled photon pairs and Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen states. Qubits and quantum gates. Teleportation.

Learning and Teaching

Learning Activities and Teaching Methods

Description Study time KIS type
20×1-hour lectures 20 hours SLT
2×1-hour problems/revision classes 2 hours SLT
5×6-hour self-study packages 30 hours GIS
4×4-hour problem sets 16 hours GIS
Reading, private study and revision 82 hours GIS


Weight Form Size When ILOS assessed Feedback
0% Guided self-study 5×6-hour packages Fortnightly 1-8 Discussion in class
0% 4 × Problems sets 4 hours per set Fortnightly 1-8 Solutions discussed in problems classes.
100% Final Examination 2 hours 30 minutes January 1-8 Mark via MyExeter, collective feedback via ELE and solutions.


The following list is offered as an indication of the type & level of information that students are expected to consult. Further guidance will be provided by the Module Instructor(s).

Core text:

Supplementary texts:


Further Information

Prior Knowledge Requirements

Pre-requisite Modules Waves and Optics (PHY1023), Quantum Mechanics I (PHY2022) and Electromagnetism II (PHY3051)
Co-requisite Modules none


Re-assessment is not available except when required by referral or deferral.

Original form of assessment Form of re-assessment ILOs re-assessed Time scale for re-assessment
Whole module Written examination (100%) 1-8 August/September assessment period

Notes: See Physics Assessment Conventions.

KIS Data Summary

Learning activities and teaching methods
SLT - scheduled learning & teaching activities 22 hrs
GIS - guided independent study 128 hrs
PLS - placement/study abroad 0 hrs
Total 150 hrs
Summative assessment
Coursework 0%
Written exams 100%
Practical exams 0%
Total 100%


IoP Accreditation Checklist
  • N/A this is an optional module
Availability unrestricted
Distance learning NO
Keywords Physics; quantum optics; photonics; optics; Maxwell's equations; electodynamics; quantum mechanics.
Created 01-Oct-10
Revised 02-Feb-15