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Waves & Optics - Rice University



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This course covers the physics of waves on strings, electromagnetic waves, geometrical optics, interference, diffraction, and image formation.With this course you earn while you learn, you gain recognized qualifications, job specific skills and knowledge and this helps you stand out in the job market.

Important information

Requirements: PHYS201x is targeted to an audience with a wide range of backgrounds and abilities from motivated high school students to people returning to their studies after a break. The prerequisites for this course are calculus and introductory physics. Students should be comfortable with basic integration and differentiation, while other mathematical methods will be described in detail.


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What you'll learn on the course

Geometrical optics

Course programme

PHYS201x follows introductory physics courses with a more detailed treatment of oscillators, waves on strings, and electromagnetic waves. In addition to deriving and solving the wave equation, mathematical methods will be introduced on making approximations, describing oscillations with complex numbers, and synthesizing functions with Fourier series. Optical reflection and refraction will be derived, as well as the lens equation and elements of geometrical optics. Optical interference, diffraction, and polarization will be covered in detail, including the role of diffraction in image formation. PHYS201x will have weekly video lectures that explain the material through detailed derivations and demonstrations. There will be weekly homework, a discussion forum, and two exams. Eight weeks of content will be presented, and one week devoted to each self-paced exam.

Additional information

Jason Hafner Jason Hafner earned his Ph.D. from Rice University in 1998 under Richard Smalley for work on carbon nanotubes, and pursued postdoctoral studies at Harvard University with Charles Lieber. Dr. Hafner is currently a Professor of Physics and Astronomy and of Chemistry at Rice, as well as an Associate Editor of ACS Nano. He has taught freshman and sophomore physics at Rice for the past eight years, and is a member of Rice's Center for Teaching Excellence.   Lam Yu Lam Yu earned his Ph.D. from Rice University in 2006 under Douglas Natelson for work on single-molecule transistors, and pursued postdoctoral studies at the National Institute of Standard and Technology. He was an assistant professor at the University of Memphis from 2008-2012, where his lab studied nanoscale electromechanical switches.