4 ECTS credits
110 h study time

Offer 1 with catalog number 4017677FNR for all students in the 1st semester at a (F) Master - specialised level.

1st semester
Enrollment based on exam contract
Grading method
Grading (scale from 0 to 20)
Can retake in second session
Taught in
Partnership Agreement
Under interuniversity agreement for degree program
Faculteit Ingenieurswetenschappen
Applied Physics and Photonics
Educational team
Francis Berghmans
Sidney Frans Goossens (course titular)
Activities and contact hours
30 contact hours Lecture
12 contact hours Seminar, Exercises or Practicals
Course Content

This course consists of a series of lectures to introduce how a light signal can be used to measure the most common physical quantities such as distance, displacement, speed, acceleration, temperature, mechanical forces and deformation. The course serves a twofold purpose. First it tries to give an overview of the different physical mechanisms through which the optical sensor changes the characteristics of a light signal by allowing it to interact with a physical measurand. We therefore review the most important characteristics of an optical signal, the principles of interferometry, the Bragg condition and the elastooptic effect. Second, it describes how optical sensors are built, what their main specifications are and which aspects one has to consider for building an effective sensor. Both free space optical sensors and optical fiber sensors are investigated: Free space sensors are applied to the measurement of distance and displacement; speed and acceleration; and temperature. Optical fiber point sensors based on interferometry, Bragg gratings or distributed sensors are compared and the potential of multiplexing is studied. 

Course material
Digital course material (Required) : Detailed slides projected during the lectures, Prof. Berghmans
Digital course material (Required) : Optical Sensors, Extra lecture material and course notes, Prof. Berghmans
Additional info

This course is taught entirely at VUB - Campus Etterbeek.


Learning Outcomes

Algemene competenties

This course contributes to acquiring the following competences:
understand the most important optical measurement techniques
be able to choose the right technique for a particular measurement problem
master and apply advanced knowledge in the own field of engineering in case of complex problems
thoroughly understand and apply several areas of specialisation (to be chosen by the student) in the field of photonics
be acquainted with the recent innovation trends in the domain of photonics
have knowledge of the most important application areas of photonic materials, components and systems
perform research by means of scientific literature
analyse own results and results of others in an objective manner
understand the context of technical or scientific papers in the field of photonics and further investigate unclear parts independently
take up independent positions about complex situations and be able to defend the point of view
ability to talk about field of specialization, also in English
report on technical or scientific subjects orally, in writing and in graphics
interpret the manuals of standard photonic instrumentation and work with this instrumentation,
function as a member of an international team
act in an ethical, professional and social way


The final grade is composed based on the following categories:
Oral Exam determines 75% of the final mark.
PRAC Lab Work determines 25% of the final mark.

Within the Oral Exam category, the following assignments need to be completed:

  • Oral Examination with a relative weight of 1 which comprises 75% of the final mark.

    Note: 1 exam consisting of a main question to be answered with or without class notes and 2 smaller questions to be answered without the use of class notes. The answers are first prepared in writing, followed by an oral examination based on the preparation.

Within the PRAC Lab Work category, the following assignments need to be completed:

  • Lab Work and Poster with a relative weight of 1 which comprises 25% of the final mark.

    Note: graded lab sessions and poster presentation, the latter being facultative depending on the number of students enrolled.

Additional info regarding evaluation

It is compulsory to follow all WPO sessions as well as the lectures of invited guest speakers. In case of legally motivated absence, the student needs to personally inform the titularis as soon as possible. 

If a student's score is insufficient, the grade of the practical sessions is automatically transferred to the second exam term and only the theory exam can be remade. For organisational reasons, the student can not redo the lab sessions in the 2nd exam term.

Allowed unsatisfactory mark
The supplementary Teaching and Examination Regulations of your faculty stipulate whether an allowed unsatisfactory mark for this programme unit is permitted.

Academic context

This offer is part of the following study plans:
Master of Photonics Engineering: Standaard traject (only offered in Dutch)
Master of Photonics Engineering: On campus traject
Master of Photonics Engineering: Online/Digital traject