Physics Department | Center For Optical Technologies | Lehigh University  

Prof. Ivan Biaggio  

Research Group  




Prof. I. Biaggio
Teaching activities

355: Lasers and Nonlinear Optics

Spring Semester



This course is designed for advanced undergraduate and graduate students having some previous exposure to the field of optics, and wishing to become knowledgeable in the basic principles that govern the light-matter interaction effects collectively known as nonlinear optics.

After this course you should be able to understand and operate many different kinds of laser systems, and also to design and build one. Next, you will be able to understand and analyze the nonlinear optical effects that laser beams induce in transparent materials and that are of the second order and of the third order in the optical electric field. If faced with a new phenomenon or effect, you should be able to analyze it with the tools presented in this course and understand its origins and implications.


A very quick, partical introduction to light waves, laser beams, and how do describe them.

A basic treatment of nonlinear optics that will include the origin, symmetry, and definitions of the nonlinear optical susceptibilities. Experiments and applications will be selected from among the following topics: Measurement of nonlinear optical properties and the pitfalls of inconsistent definitions found in the literature; Molecular hyperpolarizabilities and macroscopic nonlinearities; Second and third order effects; Wave interaction in anisotropic crystals; Frequency conversion; Optical Kerr effect; Optical switching; Four-wave mixing.

Several current topics of interest related to the material in the course will be discussed and presented depending on class interest. In fundamental research, lasers and nonlinear optical techniques can deliver information on the symmetry of materials and interfaces, on the excited states of matter, and on the dynamics of a multitude of material excitations. In technology, nonlinear optical effects are used to change the color of laser beams, to create short laser pulses, and are critical for the understanding and optimization of information-transmission in optical fibers and elsewhere.

Syllabus (PDF)

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