6 ECTS credits
180 h study time

Offer 1 with catalog number 4020325ENR for all students in the 1st semester at a (E) Master - advanced 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
Jan Danckaert
Guy Verschaffelt (course titular)
Jeroen Beeckman
Activities and contact hours
36 contact hours Lecture
36 contact hours Seminar, Exercises or Practicals
Course Content

Position of the course

Introducing the microscopic origin of optical phenomena and transferring concepts from microscopic to macroscopic descriptions. Illustrating optical properties like anisotropy, non-linearity and variation by means of electric, elastic, acoustic or magnetic effects in basic components. All lectures are held atVUB with co-lecturer from UGent.


  • Introduction
  • Properties of linear isotropic materials: examples, microscopic theory, definitions
  • Light propagation in anisotropic dielectrics: polarisation, propagation, matrix
  • Formalism, reflection
  • Properties of linear anisotropic dielectrics: tensors, types of materials, optical activity
  • Modification of optical properties: microscopic theory, electro- photo- elasto- acousto-
  • Magneto- optic effects
  • Liquid crystals: types of ordering, switching behavior Non-linear optical materials:
  • Second-order effects, phase-relations, OPO, material examples


Course material
Course text (Required) : Optical Materials, Danckaert - Neyts - Verschaffelt - Tassin - Van Brabant - Beeckman - Veretennicoff, VUB, 2220170009988, 2023
Handbook (Recommended) : Optical Waves in Crystals, Propagation and Control of Laser Radiation, A. Yariv, Wiley, 9780471430810, 2002
Handbook (Recommended) : Introduction to Complex Mediums for Optics and Electromagnetics, Weiglhofer and Lakhtakia, SPIE press, 9780819449474, 2003
Additional info

This course is also taught entirely at UGENT (Please visit the following link for more course info about UGent version: http://studiegids.ugent.be/2014/EN/studiefiches/E024800.pd)

Learning Outcomes

Algemene competenties

Final competences

  • Understand and explain the microscopic and macroscopic theory of linear (isotropic and anisotropic) optical materials and light propagation.
  • Understand and explain mechanisms for modifying the optical properties of materials: electric, magnetic, elastic and acoustic methods, including liquid crystals.
  • Understand and explain basic non-linear optical effects
  • Solve exercises that are based on linear (isotropic and anisotropic) optical materials, modification of optical properties and liquid crystals.
  • Calculate the propagation of light and the change in polarization
  •  Make written and oral reports about optical phenomena and devices


The final grade is composed based on the following categories:
Other Exam determines 100% of the final mark.

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

  • examen with a relative weight of 1 which comprises 100% of the final mark.

    Note: During examination period: 70%
    1. theory exam: closed-book exam with oral examination;
    2. problem solving exam: open-book exam.

    During semester: graded project reports; graded oral presentation.
    1 computerpracticum (written report): 10%, week 10.
    1 literature study (written report and oral presentation): 20%, week 12.

Additional info regarding evaluation

Written exam (problem solving), followed by oral exam (theory).

During semester: graded project written report and graded oral presentation.

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: On campus traject
Master of Photonics Engineering: Online/Digital traject
Master of Electrical Engineering: Standaard traject BRUFACE J