PHY2037 Nonlinear Optics and Imaging 2021-22
Prof. J.J. Moger
Delivery Weeks: T2:01-11
Level: 5 (NQF)
Credits: 15 NICATS / 7.5 ECTS
Enrolment: 33 students (approx)


Nonlinear optics provides access to light-matter interactions that are not accessible with conventional (linear) optical imaging techniques and can give novel information regarding the microscopic structure and chemical composition of a wide range of materials. This module will introduce the fundamental principles of non-linear optics (NLO) and explain how it can be applied to reveal novel information regarding material structure and function. Examples from recent research publications will be used to highlight how NLO is making a significant contribution towards advancing our understanding in key materials and life-science research challenges.

Module Aims

Nonlinear optical imaging has emerged as a powerful tool offering significant advantages over conventional optical methods. This module aims to give students an introduction into the fundamental Physics underpinning these techniques, an overview of the instrumentation used, and their application in modern research applications.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

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

Syllabus Plan

  1. Introduction and Historical Perspective
  2. Overview of Conventional (Linear) Optical Imaging
    1. Microscopy and spectroscopy in materials and life-sciences
    2. Optical contrast (phase, absorption, fluorescence)
    3. Vibrational spectroscopy (IR and Raman)
    4. Confocal detection
    5. Performance (depth penetration, photodamage, speed trade-off, photobleaching, staining, spatial resolution)
  3. Fundamentals of Non-Linear Optical Processes
    1. Revision of light-matter interactions
    2. Non-linear optical interactions (non-linear susceptibility)
    3. Second-order processes
    4. Third-order processes
  4. Instrumentation for NLO imaging and spectroscopy
    1. Properties of ultrafast laser pulses and requirements for NLO
    2. Oscillators and amplifiers
    3. Frequency conversion
    4. Fibre-Sources
    5. Practical considerations for use of ultrafast lasers (pulse shapes, autocorrelations, dispersion, laser safety)
    6. Microscope and spectrometer design
  5. Non-Linear Optical Imaging and Spectroscopy
    1. Multi-photon fluorescence
    2. Harmonic Generation (SHG and THG)
    3. Coherent anti-Stoke Raman Scattering (CARS and SRS)
    4. Other techniques – Sum Frequency Generation (SFG) and transient absorption
    5. Multi-modal imaging
    6. Performance (depth penetration, photodamage, speed trade-off, photobleaching, staining, spatial resolution)
  6. Applications and Future Perspectives
    1. Biological applications
    2. Clinical applications
    3. Materials and chemical applications

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 problems 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 1-7 Discussion in class
0% 4 × Problems sets 4 hours per set Fortnightly 1-11 Solutions discussed in problems classes.
100% Final Examination 120 minutes May/June assessment period 1-11 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), Mathematics for Physicists (PHY1026) and Electromagnetism I (PHY2021)
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%) 1-11 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
  • Not applicable, this is an optional module.
Availability unrestricted
Distance learning NO
Keywords Physics; Optics; Non-linear Optics; Imaging.
Created 18-Oct-21
Revised 01-Mar-21