The area of “Fundamentals of Optical Technologies” covers basic fundamentals of optics and of the different application fields mentioned in the six other topics. Research in this area will be carried out for the optical part by the Institute of Optics, Information and Photonics (IOIP) of the Faculty of Sciences and the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Light (MPL) and for the other parts within the SAOT.

Optics is a field where progress in applications is still closely related to advances in fundamental research. This development started with the invention of the laser, which along with the transistor is regarded as the most important innovation of the 20th century. Even the impressive advances achieved in microelectronics are mainly driven by a rapid development of optics, mainly of optical lithography. Advances in technologies originally developed to structure and process semiconductors have often enabled vice-versa the creation of new photonic materials and components.

While research in fundamental questions of optics is part of the topics covered in the International Max Planck Research School for Optics and Imaging (IMPRS) and is of essential interest to the MPL and the University IOIP, fundamentals of optics differ from the other six topics as a certain knowledge of the basics is an essential prerequisite for the curriculum. Students with very different backgrounds are brought together and to provide them with a common understanding an entrance academy covering the basics is run at the beginning. Courses are tailored to the needs of physicists or engineers, respectively, these two being the main addressees of SAOT. The goal is to establish a common basic understanding of the fundamentals of optics among the doctoral candidates.

As students applying are expected to have a degree – Master or diploma – in Physics, Engineering or a related field, a sound knowledge in geometrical and wave optics are a prerequisite. Thus these two topics are not treated explicitly, but be part of the introductory lectures on classical optics recapitulating the basic ideas of geometrical and wave optics and their link to electrodynamics. In this way a common point of departure and a joint notation for further lectures is established. Afterwards the following topics are taught in some detail. However, it should be clear that the goal of this course is not to become an expert in any of these fields, but to get an idea and deepen the knowledge if necessary in one of the other six topics.

 Atom and Quantum Optics. For quantum physics light is an interesting object for two reasons: light in itself is quantized and its quantum properties can be studied more easily than in many other systems. In addition light is an excellent tool to investigate the quantum properties of matter. Having discussed the quantum nature of light, a quantum mechanical description of the laser is given. Furthermore the lectures introduce the basic issues of quantum optics such as parametric down-conversion, parametric oscillation, squeezing and entanglement. Finally some current developments are discussed e.g. quantum information processing and the formation of Bose-Einstein condensates.

Spectroscopy. Optical spectroscopy as a non-invasive technique is widely used to study materials in all phases. Starting from the basic processes leading to absorption, fluorescence or Raman scattering, to name just the most common spectroscopic techniques, more advanced techniques like CARS (coherent anti-Stokes Raman scattering) are to be discussed. The different atomic, molecular or condensed matter processes leading to the observed scattering spectra will be analyzed. Different types of spectrometers will be introduced and discussed with respect to possible applications.

Nanophotonics. With the progress in micro- and nanostructuring techniques a new field of optics and photonics has emerged. Novel effective materials have been formed by patterning conventional substances with sub-micron resolution. A new understanding of light propagation far from any geometrical optical approaches is required to correctly predict the field evolution in sub-wavelength structures. Lectures will start with an introduction into the physics of photonic crystals. Then the course will move on while discussing the optical response of composites of resonant scatterers as dielectric spheres or metallic sub-wavelength structures. An overview over recent works on the creation of a magnetic response at optical frequencies and on the creation of so-called negatively refracting metamaterials will conclude this section.

Laser Technology. Since the invention of the laser 50 years ago a multitude of laser systems for various applications has been developed. After a short review on the basic principles of laser technology such as stimulated emission, cavity design and mode-locking, different types of lasers and their respective applications will be presented. Thus a wide range of common laser technologies will be introduced, e.g. laser assisted manufacturing, various medical applications or high-precision metrology.

Interferometry Another widely used non-invasive optical method is interferometry. In astronomy interferometry is one of the major experimental techniques to gather information from objects which are too far away to be resolved by conventional imaging. Interferometry is also used to measure the surface topography of a given object, e.g. an aspheric lens, with nanometre precision or to study the flow characteristics of fluids by laser Doppler anemometry. Different types of interferometers will be introduced. Finally the design and application of diffractive and refractive micro-optical elements in interferometric testing or wavefront sensing will be discussed.

Link to other main topics. The course fundamentals of optical applications will form the basis for the more advanced lectures of the SAOT curriculum. Its optical part will provide a common understanding of optics as well as a jointly used vocabulary and notation, thus enabling an ongoing discussion among the students of the graduate school. Its success will be essential to achieve the level of excellence required for the graduate school. In addition the course provides important links between fundamentals of optics and various applications in a second major section of this Entrance Academy of SAOT where these fundamentals will be manifested. This second part will also deal with the fundamentals of the application fields as far as optics can be considered to contribute to the solution of particular problems, e.g., in mechanical and chemical engineering, in electrical engineering and electronics, in computer science, and in medicine as being covered in the main topics of SAOT. It will therefore perfectly fit to the general aim of the graduate school.

Lecture Program. As a sound knowledge in fundamental optical technologies is key to all further studies this course will be given in the beginning in the Entrance Academy including lectures and exercises. Depending on prior knowledge different emphases will be given in the courses. Peer-to-peer teaching by the advanced students will be part of the teaching concept, having manifold advantages. With their own experience of the first year still fresh the advanced students will be able to identify the specific problems that are usually encountered quite easily. Teaching will be another useful element in their own education program and finally teaching consolidates their own knowledge.

Optics Fundamentals is covered in more detail in a lecture course on this subject the examination of which has to be passed successfully during the educational phase at SAOT.