PHY3069 Ultrafast Physics 2020-21
Prof. V.V. Kruglyak
Delivery Weeks: T2:01-11
Level: 6 (NQF)
Credits: 15 NICATS / 7.5 ECTS
Enrolment: 14 students (approx)


This module covers areas of physics that emerged as a result of application of the state-of-the-art ultrafast measurement techniques in the study of spintronics, magnonics and metamaterials. In particular, topics explored in this module include ultrafast sources, time resolved spectroscopy and imaging, ultrafast magnetisation reversal, excitation of non-Fermi electron distributions, coherent phonons, magnons, etc., ultrafast demagnetisation, nonlinear electro- and magneto-optical effects (including electromagnetic radiation).

Module Aims

Ultrafast physics is revolutionising our understanding of matter and offering many new exciting opportunities, for example some speculate that table-top particle accelerators might become possible. This module aims to give the student in-depth understanding of the non-equilibrium phenomena observed in condensed matter samples that have been excited by ultrafast optical pulses.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

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

Syllabus Plan

  1. Revision
    1. Maxwell's Equations for the electromagnetic field, constitutive equations, electromagnetic waves
    2. Electronic band theory and its relation to optical properties
    3. Classification of materials according to their electric and magnetic properties
  2. Ultrafast Lasers and Amplifiers
    1. Absorption, spontaneous and stimulated emission, Einstein coefficients
    2. Three- and four-level systems
    3. Amplification and lasing — population inversion, optical gain and feedback
    4. Cavities and cavity modes
  3. Ultrafast Measurement Mechniques
    1. Principles of pump-probe measurements
    2. All-optical time resolved techniques
    3. Magneto-optics
    4. Time-resolved measurements
    5. Measurement of magnetisation dynamics
    6. Time-resolved microscopy and spectroscopy
  4. Ultrafast Processes in Solids
    1. Ultrafast electron-dynamics
    2. Ultrafast lattice dynamics and coherent phonons
    3. Two-temperature model
  5. High Frequency and Ultrafast Processes in Magnetically Ordered Materials
    1. Einstein-de Haas experiment and origin of magnetism
    2. Larmor precession and equation of motion of the magnetisation (torque equation)
    3. Exchange spin waves, magnetic heat capacity and temperature dependence of the magnetisation
    4. Phenomenological description of magnetisation dynamics in ferromagnets, magnetic energies, effective magentic field and the Landau-Lifshitz equation
    5. Relaxation of magnetisation dynamics
    6. Three-temperature models of electron, lattice and spin dynamics in metallic ferromagnets
    7. Ultrafast demagnetisation
    8. Optical excitation and coherent control of spin waves in metals and dielectrics
  6. Metamaterials
    1. Conceptual framework
    2. Basic properties and designs of metamaterials
    3. Magnonic metamaterials and 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 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 1-14 Discussion in class
0% 4 × Problems sets 4 hours per set Fortnightly 1-14 Solutions discussed in problems classes.
100% Final Examination 2 hours 30 minutes May/June 1-14 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 Quantum Mechanics I (PHY2022), Condensed Matter I (PHY2024) and Electromagnetism II (PHY3051)/PHY3055
Co-requisite Modules N/A


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%) 1-14 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 MPhys only
Distance learning NO
Keywords Physics; Lasers; Electromagnetism; Optics; Light; Ultrafast lasers; Ultrashort pulses; X-rays.
Created 01-Oct-10
Revised 02-Feb-15