All tracks begin with intensive summer course work in the area of study. To complete the master's degree, students in this track will also need to complete 30 internship credits and an additional 8 credits of course work. An overview of credits and requirements can be found on the Overview page of this website.

The Optical Materials & Devices track, launched in 2007, prepares students for optics-focused internship opportunities by giving them the fundamental theory and hands-on laboratory experience necessary to tackle the exciting challenges and opportunities within the expanding optics industry. Successful students carry out internships at a range of institutions including national laboratories, start-ups, small and mid-sized companies, as well as Fortune 500 companies.

Our industrial partners represent various facets of the optics industry, including, but not limited to, the semiconductor, biophysical/biomedical, telecommunications and manufacturing sectors. The diversity of our corporate partnerships allows students to have the opportunity to work on a myriad of projects including:

• Research and development of novel optical materials
• Custom fiber optic systems
• Software packages for optical modeling
• Fabrication of optical components (including printed 3D optics)
• Construction/integration of packaged optical assemblies
• Design/fabrication of high-power semiconductor-diode & fiber lasers
• Building analytical tools utilizing optical techniques

A number of these companies are at the forefront of industry and are incorporating exciting breakthrough advances into new products and markets. Students can connect with a diverse range of industrial experiences, including researching and developing new technologies, taking research ideas to a scalable product, optimizing the manufacturing process and developing software packages. We also encourage our students to seek out their own opportunities and some have found qualified positions in technical/inside sales and legal support in IP.

Students in this track typically have bachelor degrees in physics, applied physics or electrical engineering (some exceptions have been made, please inquire to see if your background is a good fit). To be competitive for this track it is recommended that you have previous research experience, strong math and computational skills, upper division undergraduate course work in electrodynamics and quantum mechanics. Prior experience in optics is not necessary but is an advantage. Please note that these are recommendations; we are happy to answer questions about your competitiveness for this program.

Overview of Summer Course Work:

Summer term begins with lecture courses and hands-on experiments to build a strong fundamental understanding of ray and wave optics, electrodynamics, quantum mechanics, solid state physics, device physics, nonlinear optics and laser physics. Equal time is spent exploring theory in the classroom and experimental techniques in the lab during the first half of the term. As the summer progresses you will transition from this fundamental subject matter toward more advanced research projects working in tight-knit teams. This allows for specialization within the track that allows students to tailor their resumes based on career aspirations.

These advanced research projects are either sponsored by our corporate partners or modeled after products they research and develop. Recent projects include the design and construction of a double-clad high-power continuous-wave fiber laser, Erbium-doped fiber amplifier, high-power ultrafast fiber laser, fiber dispersion characterization tools (modal and temporal dispersion), optical tweezers – and building various semiconductor optical metrology tools.

The goal of the final sequence of projects is to have teams of students independently construct working prototypes of products and present their technology to the instructors in order to win the ‘contract bids’ that have been proposed to them at the beginning of the two-week period. This final course combines the technical and professional expertise developed over the previous weeks to solidify the skills necessary for success in any internship.

An important aspect of the summer course work is to discover how to solve technical challenges involving the integration of complex components. Often, there are no purchasable or readily available solutions that allow you to successfully complete a project. Therefore, you will learn to design and machine novel components, build custom electronics and engage industrial experts to overcome technical hurdles. Students will utilize their expertise in the following technologies:

Working with free space optics (lenses, mirrors, beam splitters, waveplates, diffraction gratings, CCD cameras, detectors, etc.)

The construction of laser diode drivers from basic electronics components

Diode laser and photodiode characterization techniques (threshold current, slope efficiency, response time, spectral response, wavelength dependence on temperature, etc.)

Emitted Beam Characterization (beam profile, M2 measurements, Zernike coefficients, wavefront sensing)

Fiber optic components and techniques (free space coupling, fiber termination, pump to signal combiners, WDMs, fusion splicing, fiber Bragg gratings, doped fibers

Acousto and Electrical Optical Modulators (AOMs and EOMs)

Piezo Electrics and their applications

Feedback Tools and Stabilization Mechanisms

Scientific Python, Zemax, Matlab programming and modeling

Signal acquisition (oscilloscopes, spectrum analyzers, network analyzers, lock-in detection, etc.) and analysis

The summer courses will be co-taught by faculty from Oregon State University and the University of Oregon. Classes will be taught at both campuses – transportation will be provided.

Topics Covered:

Optics Fundamentals

• Geometric optics, ray optics and ray matrix formulation (Optical imaging, telescope design, microscope design, beam expander)

• Wave optics, polarization, diffraction, interference, mirrors, filters and anti-reflection coatings (Optical isolator, Michelson interferometer, Bragg grating simulation, Dielectric mirror simulation, thin-film deposition, sputtering, pulsed laser deposition)

• Electromagnetic wave propagation, complex index of refraction, absorption, dispersion (thin film optics, spectrometer)

Quantum Mechanics

• Time independent and time dependent Schrodinger’s equation

• The roles of functions and operators in Quantum Mechanics

• Approximation methods in Quantum Mechanics

• Quantum Mechanics in crystalline materials


• Optical cavities and mode structure, Fabry-Perot resonators (HeNe laser beam into cavity, Fabry-Perot interferometer)

• Hermite-Gaussian beams (Gaussian beam characteristics, transverse modal structure in open cavity HeNe laser)

• Planar waveguides, optical fibers (optical fiber coupling, measure numerical aperture)

Solid-State and Device Physics

• Crystal structures

• Introduction to k-space and electronic band structure

• Phonons and thermal properties of materials

• Free electrons and Fermi Gas

• Energy bands and semiconductors

• Electron and hole dynamics, carrier generation and recombination, pair injection

• Properties of semiconducting materials, density of states, carrier densities

• p-n junction behavior under forward and reverse bias (measurement of diode I-V curve)

• LED operation, output flux, external efficiency, electrical efficiency, linewidth and modulation bandwidth (LED threshold current, determine band gap)

Nonlinear Optics and Laser Fundamentals

• Spontaneous emission, stimulated emission, threshold level, gain, saturation and peak gain coefficient

• Various laser geometries, confocal, concentric, Fabry-Perot, ring lasers, folded cavities and end mirror properties

• Nonlinear Susceptibility

• Kramers-Kroning Relations in linear and nonlinear materials

• Wave equation for nonlinear optical media

• Phase matching, sum and difference frequency generation

Absorption and Emission of Light in Semiconductors

• Inter- and intra-band transitions, direct and indirect transitions, optical joint density of states

• Laser diodes, spontaneous, stimulated and absorption rates in semiconductors, equilibrium emission spectrum, non-equilibrium emission under carrier injection

• Diode detectors, operation under various bias conditions, PIN, Schottky, heterojunction diodes, Avalanche diodes

Text and Reference Books:

Fundamentals of Photonics; Bahaa E. A. Saleh and Malvin Carl Teich

Quantum Mechanics for Scientists and Engineers; David A. B. Miller

Quantum Mechanics: A Paradigms Approach; David McIntyre, Corinne A. Manogue and Janet Tate

Physics of Light and Optics; Justin Peatross and Michael Ware

Solid State Physics, 8th Edition; Charles Kittel

Physics of Semiconductor Devices, 3rd Edition; Simon M. Sze and Kwok K. Ng

Nonlinear Optics, 3rd Edition; Robert W. Boyd


David H. McIntyre, Oregon State University, Department of Physics: B.S., University of Arizona, 1980. Ph.D., Stanford University, 1987.

Nima Dinyari: B.S. in Physics, University of California Santa Barbara, 2005; Ph.D. in Physics, University of Oregon, 2012.

Bryan Boggs, UO Lecturer of Physics: PhD Physics, University of Oregon, 2012.


Photo of Mt. Hood by Zack Mensinger