Why Optics?

A series of videos developed in Optical Sciences. Students, staff, and faculty give you insight into why optics is a great option to pursue. Take a look at these videos:

  • This is Optics – created by undergraduates in the BSOSE program
  • Lighting the Future – College’s 50th anniversary video
  • Optics is… – created through videos of several students in OpSci
  • What is Optics – students doing their version of Dr. Mike’s original presentation
  • BSOSE video – created for Engineering students for help selecting their degree. Has parts from the other videos while also describing the BSOSE degree


Ok, I had to write a Photon Snacks column about my middle name étendue.  If you have not taken a course from me, you will learn why I say this.  Étendue is a geometric factor that tells you the flux propagation characteristics in a lossless optical system.  Due to the lossless nature of the optical system étendue is conserved, such that as the flux propagates there is a trade between the projected area of the optical beam/cross section of the optical system and the solid angle.  Additionally, there are seemingly some methods to break the conservation limits by using the physical properties of the radiation, which means optical designers can use these properties to push the limits of optical design.

OpSci is Growing

The Wyant College of Optical Sciences is growing – we are getting most of the new building going up in the former parking lot, 14+ endowed chairs and junior professors, increased staff over time, and more students – both undergraduate and graduate.  We in the College want to be effective in our growth plans, so we want to hear from you, the students, about some internal proposal, but more importantly we want to hear you suggestions for new initiatives  Additionally, if you are willing to answer, why did you choose optics?  There is a survey at https://forms.gle/4Ka1AQJyhi2Ri6sd8.

Freeform Optics

Freeform optics is defined as: any non-rotationally symmetric surface or a symmetric surface that is rotated about any axis that is not its axis of symmetry. Thus, it is essentially an optic that lacks symmetry with respect to the optical axis. Some of the best examples of such are the headlights and taillamps on cars, which are often faceted reflectors for bulbs or asymmetric arrays for LED sources. I present the reasoning of why freeform optics is important, present some of the design methods (for nonimaging design), and discuss an example that uses an example of wall-wash illumination.

Research Positions in OpSci

The College does over $20M of research per year.  This funding is used to buy equipment, conduct travel, publish papers, and also pay the people who conduct this research.  All of this research is divided up into four research areas or groups: Optical Engineering, Imaging, Photonics, and Optical Physics, which spans from the most applied to the most fundamental.  Do your “research” on those groups who you potentially would like to work.  In the article are College-maintained profiles for a number of the researchers, which also have links to personal research webpages.  The article ends with some guidance on doing this research and how to get an interview.

CUWip 2022 at Uarizona

The University of Arizona’s Departments of Physics and Astronomy are hosting one of the APS’ simultaneous Conferences for Undergraduate Women in Physics (CUWiP) at Biosphere 2, 21-23 January 2022.  Registration applications are open till 4 October 2021 for undergraduate students, and then it opens on 26 October to non-undergraduate students.  You can register at the Application tab at http://cuwip.arizona.edu/ and browse around to find out more about this exciting event.

Radiation and Conservation

Light can help us observe but it can also be damaging.  Optical radiation, especially shorter wavelengths can destroy colors over time.  The textile industry developed a visual standard, the blue wool scale, in order to ascertain the amount of damage and the time it takes to occur.  I introduce you to some work of a M.S. student to replicate such using a calibrated spectroradiometer connected to your smartphone that can observe changes to works of art.  I also show some examples of why this is important.

Typesetting equations

In this week’s Photon Snacks I give preliminary feedback from the survey introduced in last week’s column. I then tackle the topic of typesetting or formatting equations for reports, theses, dissertations, and other scientific documents. The various journal publishers have templates that will help you, and there are equation or formula editors that can be used in software, including Microsoft, Apple, and Google products.

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