ECE 456

Catalog Data: 

ECE 456 - Optoelectronics (3 units)

Description: Properties and applications of optoelectronic devices and systems. Topics include electromagnetics, radiometry, polarization, propagation, laser design, and electro-optical components.

Grading: Regular grades are awarded for this course: A B C D E

May be convened with ECE 556

ECE 352 and ECE 381

Intructor will provide course notes

Course Learning Outcomes: 
By the end of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Understand the electromagnetic spectrum, wave equation and wave propagation in linear isotropic media and in anisotropic media.
  2. Understand basic radiometric quantities and perform analyses of basic radiometric designs
  3. USe matrix methods to model and interpret image formation and beam propagation (both plane wave and Gaussian beam) in an optical system
  4. Understand the function and design of an optical resonator
  5. Calculate resonator mode characteristics and determine mode stability in an optical resonator
  6. Understand cavity Q, constructive and destructive interference
  7. Interpret resonator output spectra, including calculating and interpreting cavity finesse, resolution, mode spacing, etc.
  8. Understand the design and function of a Fabry-Perot etalon optical spectrum analyzer
  9. Design an optical resonator (mirror curvature, size, separation, Gaussian beam characteristics in resonator) and understand sources of loss
  10. Understand the function and design of laser gain media: gas, liquid, solid-state
  11. Understand energy band diagrams, band gap, excited states, spontaneous emission, stimulated emission, state lifetimes, lineshape broadening: homogeneous and inhomogeneous, Einstein A and B coefficients, rate equations, exponential gain coefficient, population inversion, intensity
  12. Design 3- and 4-level laser gain media based on desired design constraints
  13. Understand the impact of placing the gain medium inside a resonator to produce a laser: laser gain profile, spectrum, threshold, population inversion, critical fluorescence power, stimulated emission power, output power
  14. Understand the function and design of Q switch devices and methods and mode locking devices and methods
  15. Discuss a variety of laser types (descriptions, pros, cons)
Course Topics: 


  • Electromagnetic
  • Acoustic
  • Traveling
  • Standing
  • Electromagnetic spectrum
  • Maxwell's equations and the wave equation

Basic terminology

  • Homogeneous
  • Linear
  • Isotropic media


  • Linear
  • Elliptical
  • Circular
  • Jones vectors
  • Matrices 

Basic radiometry

Image Formation

  • Use of the refraction and translation (transfer) matrices to describe optical systems


  • Beam path ray trace through an optical system to determine the stability of the system

Gaussian beam propagation and imaging

  • Concepts and equations to determine the characteristics of a Gaussian beam
  • Combine the ABCD matrix method with Gaussian beams to propagate through an optical system


  • Mirrors separated by an air space
  • Resonator design (spherical mirrors)
  • Beam waist size and location in the cavity
  • Confocal resonator properties
  • General resonator properties
  • Matrix methods for resonator
  • Resonator stability
  • Sources of loss
  • Output of resonator


  • Cavity modes, mode spacing, constructive and destructive interference Fabry-Perot etalon (optical spectrum analyzer), finesse, resolution

Gain medium

  • Gas, liquid and solid-state
  • Energy bands
  • Band gap
  • Ground state
  • Excited states
  • Impact on resonator output

Lineshape broadening

  • Homogeneous and inhomogeneous


  • Three- and four-level lasers
  • Laser gain profile spectrum
  • Laser types: descriptions, pros and cons
  • Laser output: spectral, beam characteristics, etc.
Class/Laboratory Schedule: 

Two 75-minute lectures per week

Relationship to Student Outcomes: 

ECE 456 contributes directly to the following specific electrical and computer engineering student outcomes of the ECE department:

  • Ability to apply knowledge of mathematics, science and engineering (high)
  • Ability to design and conduct experiments, as well as to analyze and interpret data (medium)
  • Ability to identify, formulate and solve engineering problems (high)
  • Ability to communicate effectively (medium)
  • Ability to use the techniques, skills and modern engineering tools necessary for engineering practice (high)
Prepared by: 
Kelly Potter
Prepared Date: 

University of Arizona College of Engineering