Physics 428 - Applied Optics - Fall 2005 (instructor - Dr. Brian Davies)

Online resources

    The following are links to online (web-based) simulations and animations to complement the textbook, Optics, 4th ed., by Eugene Hecht.  These have been chosen to illustrate the basic physics of the material in Hecht's book.  Where I think a topic should have some simulation, I have indicated the topic without a link, and am searching for a suitable animation.  Volunteers are welcome to suggest (or write!) a suitable simulation for these topics.  I have not attempted to link to the large amount of historical and applications-oriented material on the web.  Several instructors at other universities have long lists of links to interesting sites, which are listed in a section at the end of this page. 

Chapter    Chapter Title 

1. A Brief History.

2. Wave Motion.

Relation between circular motion and wave motion

Simulations of traveling waves and reflections from fixed and free boundaries (animated gif, not an applet)

Simulation of waves on a string, consisting of springs and masses (use cursor to shake the left end)

3. Electromagnetic Theory, Photons, and Light.

Phase of harmonic waves and complex representation.

Plane waves and meaning of k (dot) r term in wave equation. 

Spherical waves and cylindrical waves. 

Faraday's Law of Induction

Gauss's Law

Ampere's Circuital Law

Transverse EM Waves

Plane-polarized EM wave, showing E and B fields

Poynting Vector and Irradiance

Photon Counting, granularity in image formation

Radiation from an accelerated charge (linear, oscillating, synchrotron-circular, or wiggler-sinusoidal motion)

Field of a moving point charge (even more options, different user interface)

Synchrotron radiation pattern, relativistic "searchlight"

Electric dipole radiation

Radiation from a vertical half-dipole and AM radio stations

EM waves of various types

QuickTime Movies of EM Waves (from Iowa State Univ.)

4. The Propagation of Light.

Rayleigh scattering

Forward scattering and propagation from Huygen's  principle

Origin of the index of refraction

Reflection and the law of reflection

Ray picture of reflection

Reflection and refraction - simulation and multipart tutorial (Huygen's principle)

Reflection and refraction showing wavelets from Huygen's principle

Fermat principle for reflection and refraction

Fermat's principle in modern terms:  stationary paths (EF Taylor?)

EM waves at interface, boundary conditions

Fresnel equations, transmittance, and reflectance - intensity of transmitted and reflected light beams

Total Internal Reflection

Reflection and refraction from underwater (flashlight model)

Internal reflection of beams at various angles, with intensity simulation

World above water surface, as viewed by a fish !

Refraction at a planar surface - world as viewed by fish or fisherman

Evanescent waves

Dispersion equation derived from driven, damped oscillator model

Mixing colors (RGB scheme)

Feynman's approach (wish list:  rewrite E. F. Taylor's simulations in Java)

5. Geometrical Optics.

Aspherical surfaces

Refraction at spherical surfaces

Thin lens - locating images by ray tracing (displays distances, focal length, and magnification) (broken link?)

Virtual Optics Bench (use a single lens) (alternate web site, with short instructions)

Diverging Lens (short exercise)

Lens within and without a dielectric of higher index.

Longitudinal magnification of finite object (or see Thin lens combinations)

Combinations of lenses - see the Virtual Optics Bench

Thin lens combinations, including longitudinal magnification, telescope, and microscope

Apertures, field stops, entrance and exit pupils

f-number and camera lenses

Plane mirrors and inversions - two mirrors at 90 degree angular separation

Aspherical mirrors - elementary simulation of parabolic mirror

Spherical mirrors - locating images by ray tracing (displays distances, focal length, and magnification) (broken link?)

Spherical mirrors - also see the Virtual Optics Bench

Spherical mirrors - toy in Physics office with real image of coins (is this simulation correct?)

Dispersing Prisms (minimum deviation simulation, or try the following simulation)

Prism - reflection and refraction (no dispersion)



Fiber optics - propagation of light

Fiber optics - numerical aperture

Fiber optics - stepped vs. graded index

Fiber optics - modal dispersion simulated with propagating beams

Capillary optics


The Human Eye

Defects in eyes and corrective lenses

Magnifying glasses and eyepieces

Microscope, Camera, Telescopes

Adaptive optics and phase conjugation

Gravitational lensing

6. More on Geometrical Optics.

Demonstration of a thick lens (using matrix transformations, with no spherical aberration.)

Adjustable thick lens simulation with ray tracing

Ray tracing

Matrix methods


Spherical Aberration (demonstration of spherical aberration that occurs with a real mirror)

GRIN lenses (see this PDF document about Gradium(R) lenses on the LightPath Technologies website)

7. The Superposition of Waves.

Addition of waves of same frequency

Standing waves (see the third animated gif in this page, also see the fourth one for beats)

Beats - shows two traveling waves of different frequency and the resulting beats

Group velocity
For a demonstration of dispersion in water waves, use the group velocity simulation, and set the group velocity at 0.5.

Fourier synthesis (alternate link)

Fourier series demonstration, with variable number of terms and better sound

Fourier integrals and transforms, see this description from a review of Fourier methods (Ulm, Germany)

Fourier transform of a Gaussian and a Step Function (choose DemoFFT1 and then DemoFFT2 from the menu on the left)

Pulses and wavepackets (choose Free Particle 2 from the menu on the left and stop when it hits the right barrier)

Wave Packet Simulator (not working on my PC?)

8. Polarization.

Polarization Exploration (including linear, circular, and elliptical)

Circular polarization demo from James Wyant's web site

Another polarization simulator with arbitrary elliptical polarization (click on the Polarization button)

Polarization of a plane EM wave - showing components and E field vector

Three stacked polarizers (rotate with cursor)

Twisting light (with a large number of polarizers)



Polarization by scattering - see the "Scattering" module in WebTop

Polarization by reflection - see the "Reflection/Refraction" module in WebTop

9. Interference.

Double slit interference (emphasizing one particular point)

Interference between two waves from point sources

Ripple tank simulation (with 1 to 4 sources and other combinations)

Ripple tank simulation (add your own sources and move them around)

Multiple source interference, point and line sources - see the "Waves" module in WebTop

3 dimensional wave interference

Thin Film - showing transmitted and reflected wave

Thin film interference with white light - simulates soap film colors

Fringes from Michelson interferometer and detail about the contrast

Michelson interferometer - see the "Michelson Interferometer" module in WebTop

Fabry-Perot Etalon - see the "Fabry-Perot Etalon" module in WebTop

10. Diffraction.

Calculate diffraction patterns with WebMathematica (online calculation with Mathematica on remote server!) (You can also get some great 3d effects, for example, by choosing Fraunhofer Diffraction - Circular Aperture, then using the mouse, grab the LiveGraphics3D plot in the right-center window; you can rotate it. Now press s to see stereo pictures.  You will have to look "thru" the screen to get the images to appear 3d.  Press shift and move the mouse to zoom or rotate about an axis perpendicular to the picture.  Press the control key and move mouse to change the 3-D aspect.  You can even get the image to spin continuously if you drag the mouse and release the left button while dragging.)

11. Fourier Optics.


12. Basics of Coherence Theory.


13. Modern Optics: Lasers and Other Topics.

Demonstration of a stable laser cavity.

Blackbody radiation (with spectrum and your choice of temperature)

More optics links: 

    Webtop is an extensive collection of optics simulations which you may download to your own computer for use in this course.

    Optics Bench with examples of scripting, sample Physlet-based problems, and advanced examples

    Physlet Resource CD (including links to Physlet collections used at several other universities for various courses) 

    Physlets Home Page

    Applets search page

    Directory of Optics Education Programs

    Physlets by Paul Falstad - contains some EM and Optics applets of interest

List of links written by other faculty at various institutions: 

    Phys. 106 at Univ. of Maryland (Spring 1998) - Ted Einstein's list of links

    Applied Phys. 216 at Harvard - R.Victor Jones's list of links to tutorials and a list of links to other web resources

    Univ. of Aberdeen - list of links