Single-Course English 5 ECTS

Optical properties of solids

Overall Course Objectives

This course, formerly called Modern Photonics, is about the way light interacts with solids. The aim is to give you a broad and up-to-date perspective on the optics of solids, and to introduce you to exciting present-day research and engineering topics in optoelectronics, using the 2010 edition of a well-written book. Fundamental principles of absorption, reflection, luminescence and light scattering will be discussed for a wide range of materials, including crystalline insulators and semiconductors, glasses, metals and molecular materials including graphene. Different optical properties of bulk and nanometer-sized structures are introduced. Classical and quantum models are used where appropriate, and theory goes hand in hand with discussions of experiments and modern applications. Among the topics introduced are quantum wells and dots, nanoplasmonics and metamaterials, and color centers.

Furthermore, this course gives a good background (but is not a prerequisite) for Nanophotonics and Quantum Optics, and is completed by the course Applied Photonics that focuses on lasers and optical detectors.

Learning Objectives

  • Derive the Kramers-Kronig relations for linear dielectric response
  • Interpret band structure diagrams of semiconductors and relate them to optical properties
  • Explain the concept of an exciton, the difference between Wannier-Mott and Frenkel excitons, and give examples
  • Describe different types of luminescence and explain the basics of LEDs and diode lasers
  • Explain what is quantum confinement, and explain the differences in optical properties of structures confined in 1D, 2D and 3D. Discuss applications of quantum wells and dots
  • Analyze how well the Drude model describes the measured reflectivity of a metal, explain limitations of the model. Describe the properties of surface plasmon polaritons
  • Describe the electronic properties of molecular materials and graphene and derive their optical properties. Identify the differences between graphene and conventional 2D semiconductors
  • Explain what is a luminescence center, describe several types, give examples of their occurrence in nature and their use in optoelectronic devices
  • Explain how infrared spectra are influenced by phonons, and discuss Brillouin and Raman light scattering
  • Calculate and solve exercises directly related to the presented optical theory of solids, thereby showing feeling for the typical length, frequency and time scales involved
  • Work actively in small groups, prepare a presentation about a core element of the course, and evaluate the presentations by your peers

Course Content

Electromagnetism in dielectrics and metals, complex refractive index, Kramers-Kronig relations, classification of optical materials, absorption, dipole oscillator model of a solid, dispersion, anisotropy, chirality. Semiconductors, band structure, interband transitions in direct and indirect gap materials, spin injection, photodetectors. Wannier-Mott and Frenkel excitons. Luminescense, photoluminescence, electroluminiscence, basics of LEDs and diode lasers. Quantum confinement, quantum wells, quantum well excitons and emission. Quantum dots as artificial atoms, basics of their synthesis and optical properties. Drude model for metals and doped semiconductors. Metals: free-carrier reflectivity, interband transitions, plasmons, basics of surface plasmon polaritons and negative refraction. Molecular orbitals, optical spectra of molecules. Carbon nanostructures and graphene. Luminescence centers, paramagnetic ions and color centers, NV centers in diamond. Phonons, infrared-active phonons, phonon polaritons, Raman and Brillouin scattering.

Recommended prerequisites

10036/10102/10303/34033, can be taken at the same time

Teaching Method

Lectures, with exercises done individually and in small groups in class


See course in the course database.





13 weeks




DTU Lyngby Campus

Course code 34032
Course type Candidate
Semester start Week 35
Semester end Week 48
Days Thurs 13-17

7.500,00 DKK