Skip to Content

Special Topics in Quantum Optics II

not offered this year!

Official description

Medical Optics

Physics has played a major role in advancing medicine. Fundamental principles of mechanics and optics have been exploited for imaging and intervention since the very foundation of what is termed modern medicine. However, the connection between physics and medical applications is not typically taught. This course is meant to bridge this gap and make the fundamental principles governing optics and light-matter interactions relevant to reinforce the material. This course will also expose students to the enormous opportunities that await them in the rapidly developing fields in medical research and biotechnology sectors.

As a brief overview, the course will take a physics perspective where the objective is to understand how things work from primary principles. With respect to the human condition, how do we understand function and control function? Surgery is one means to intervene and recover function. In this regard, surgery has, for the most part, relied on cold instruments (scalpels, saws, burrs) that are really modern (sterilized) versions of tools dating back more than a 100 years. With the recent major advances in laser surgery, there is the prospect for a major revolution in medicine. We will soon literally be moving into the Light Age of medicine. In this regard, the long heralded promise of the laser to achieve the fundamental (single cell) limit to minimally invasive surgery, with molecular level information for surgical guidance, has been achieved. This accomplishment was realized by an atomic level understanding of strongly driven phase transitions, which is the basic physics behind laser ablation of material, or surgical removal of tissue. In addition to this advance, femtosecond lasers have now seen wide spread applications in corrective eye surgery. Optical Coherence Tomography has enable subsurface imaging of tissue and non-invasive imaging of tissue and early detection of disease etc. With the advent of reaching the single cell milestone in both intervention and biodiagnostics, we are the cusp of a revolution in medicine. This revolution will be largely driven by the latest advances in understanding the light-matter interaction under strong field conditions. The course will provide the fundamentals in laser physics, light matter interactions under linear and extremely high field conditions (venturing to plasma physics), and various light based spectroscopies for imaging and biodiagnostics. This course will be discussed in terms of providing the physics to achieve the ability to control function at the single cell level.


Grading scheme:

Assignment % of final grades Date

Homework 20% Throughout course

Term Test/Take home 20% Late March

Oral presentation/research concept 20% End Feb.

Final Oral/Written Proposal 40% April/exam week

Topics to be Covered;

- Solid State Laser Physics (level of Siegman’s book on Laser Physics) relevant to the design of robust laser systems. Literature sources on latest advances of fibre optic based lasers and microchip laser concepts for OR applications

- Nonlinear Optics (Boyd), with emphasis on nonlinear light conversion to biologically active wavelength regimes. Students should be able to design nonlinear subsystems to reach desired optical wavelengths for a target application

- Molecular Spectroscopy/Quantum Mechanics of Light Absorption. Students will learn how to interpret spectra and develop spectroscopic methods for biodiagnostics and selective means to target specific tissue for photon energy deposition.

- Light-Matter interactions. The coupling of absorbed photon energy into materials to strongly drive phase transitions under full spatial confinement of energy (solution to energy transport problem).

- Spatial Imaging Mass Spectrometry: ion particle physics. MS as the ultimate tool for biodiagnostics, capable of single charged particle/molecular ion detection. Fundamental issues limiting MS.

The course will involve problem sets to reinforce material on laser physics, nonlinear optics, material properties and physics of phase transitions. The course will discuss the various major challenges in medicine that could benefit from a detailed understanding of the operating physics. Each student will be given the opportunity to explore a current medical need and propose a potential solution using latest advances in experimental physics from superconducting particle detectors to new laser sources etc.. The student will defend the proposal concept at the mid term oral presentation to get feed back, where the grade will be assessed on the novelty of the idea and clarity of the presentation. The grade will also include participation in question period for all presentations. The final presentation and written proposal is the capstone assignment for the course with the same grading scheme.

Basic knowledge of Classical and Quantum Mechanics and Optics will be assumed.
                            The various reference sources for the notes will be given, as above. The latter half of the course will use exclusively the research literature and the specific references will be given.  Students are expected to be able to research the literature independently in developing their own research concepts.
course title
specialized course
time and location
Tuesdays & Thursdays 12 pm-1 pm MP408

Delivery Methods

In Person

A course is considered In Person if it requires attendance at a specific location and time for some or all course activities.*.

* Subject to adjustments imposed by public health requirements for physical distancing.

Online - Synchronous
A course is considered Online Synchronous if online attendance is expected at a specific time for some or all course activities, and attendance at a specific location is not expected for any activities or exams.
A course is considered Asynchronous if it has no requirement for attendance at a specific time or location for any activities or exams.