Course Syllabus

PHYS 331: Optics Laboratory, Autumn 2016

Instructor: Jason Detwiler (
Office: PAB B444
Office hours: Mondays 12:30-1:20

Lab Manager: David Pengra (
Office: PAB B256
Phone: 543-4783

Paul Nguyen ( Mondays
Grades Speed of Light and Fraunhofer and Fresnel Diffraction

Bevin Huang ( Tuesdays
Grades Faraday Rotation and Reflection from an Air-Dielectric Interface

Jun Hui See Toh ( Wednesdays
Grades Concave Diffraction Grating and Fabry-Perot Interferometer

Zaiyao Fei ( Fridays
Grades Michelson Interferometer and Holography


Lecture Time: Mondays 11:30-12:20 pm, PAA A110.

The first day of lecture is October 3. No lecture will be given on November 21. There will be an in-class exam on the last lecture period on December 5.


Labs: Room PAB B260

No labs will be held on September 28-30. Section AC will have no lab on Friday, November 11 (Veterans Day). No labs are scheduled for November 21-23 or December 5-8, but those days may used for individually scheduled make-up labs for legitimate absences.


Course Materials

The text book for this course is Optics, 4th or 5th ed., by Eugene Hecht (Addison Wesley, San Francisco, 2002). The online eBook may work as well, but it is up to you to verify this. Click here for the course reading assignments.

You will also need some form of notebook for taking notes during your experiments.

Course Handouts:

Additional Handouts:


Experiments: There are 8 experiments and you will perform a new lab each week. You will be graded only on your best 6 labs, so you can stop after you complete 6 if you like. The first is required to be the Speed of Light experiment.


Pre-Lab Assignments: Except for the Speed of Light experiment, you must submit pre-lab assigments (according to the format specified in lecture) due at 1:30 pm on the day you perform your experiments.  The pre-lab assignment is a one page write up, including your understanding of the purpose of the experiment, the outline of experimental procedures, the physical quantities you are going to measure directly, and the physical quantities you will derive from the measurements.  Late submissions will be awarded no credit.

Click here to view a sample pre-lab assignment.


Lab Reports: You must submit lab reports (according to the format specified in the Lab Report Grading Standards handout) for all performed experiments. Submissions will be made online using canvas. Examples of good lab reports from previous years can be downloaded here and here.

The Speed of Light lab report is due by 1:30 PM one week after you complete the experiment. Each other lab report is due by 1:30 PM two weeks after you complete each experiment, with the exception of labs performed during the week of November 28 (and after), which are due by 1:30 PM one week after they are completed. The last day for lab report submission is Wednesday December 14 at 5 pm, except for Section AC (Friday) students, whose last reports can be submitted up until Friday December 16 at 5pm.

All late submissions will be penalized at 5% per late day, including weekends and holidays.


Exam: There will be one in-class (final) exam to be given on December 5 on material covered in lectures. Open notes and open book. Bring a pocket calculator. Write solutions on the exam paper.


Grading: Each lab report, graded out of 50 points, is worth 15% of the total grade except for the Speed of Light report, which is worth 10%. The exam is worth 10% of your grade. Pre-lab reports, graded out of 10 points, are worth 5% of your total grade. Adjustments will be made for any differences in average scores on a given experiment or exam.

Students who submit all eight reports may receive writing credit (W) for the course.

Important: To be eligible for getting a final grade for Physics 331, you must submit the speed of light report by Monday Oct. 24, and submit at least three full reports by the start of your lab section on the week of Nov. 14th.

Course Summary:

Date Details