PHYC40400 Nanooptics and biophotonics

Academic Year 2023/2024

Light is often preferred for imaging and for analysis of materials. This is due to the non-destructive nature of light and its direct relation to human vision. However, conventional optics fall short of describing essential features at the nanoscale of naturally occurring phenomena and technologically relevant structures. In this module we review the basics of optics before processing into more advanced optical techniques of relevance for optical imaging, sensing, and biomedical applications from nanoscopy to visual optics, The knowledge acquired brings us to the forefront of nanooptics and biophotonics as well as biomedical applications of optics at different length scales from the macroscopic to the microscopic range.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

This module starts off from traditional electromagnetic wave optics, photonics, light sources, detectors, and waveguiding before progressing to nanooptics and biophotonics. Topics such as waveguides, modes, optical fibres, lasers, resolution limit, diffraction theory, Zernike aberrations, adaptive optics, wavefront sensing, scattering, optical tweezers, near-field optics, plasmonics and advanced microscopy (light sheet microscopy, multiphoton microscopy, structured illumination, and localization microscopy ) will all be covered.
Likewise, biomedical techniques such as endoscopes, optical coherence tomography, scanning laser ophthalmoscopy, ophthalmology, visual optics and dermatology will be extensively covered. On completion, the student will have a comprehensive knowledge of light-matter interactions at both the micron and the nanoscale. This will make the student able to follow and take on an active role in present-day optical research at the interface of optical physics with bio- and life sciences.

Indicative Module Content:

Geometrical optics and waveoptics
Optical waveguiding
Optical microscopy (widefield and scanning)
Nonlinear optics
Optical coherence tomography
Adaptive optics

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours
Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning






Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
All lectures will be delivered online only (due to covid-19) and will be complemented with problem-based learning (homework, submitted online). 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations
Learning Recommendations:

A basic course on waves, electromagnetism, and optics (PHYC10060 and PHYC20010) is recommended prior to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade
Continuous Assessment: Tutorials/problem sets throughout semester (delivered online) Varies over the Trimester n/a Not yet recorded No


Examination: Final examination (delivered online, open book exam) 3 hours total, including time to scan and upload solutions. 2 hour End of Trimester Exam Yes Not yet recorded No


Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Spring Yes - 2 Hour
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment
• Group/class feedback, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Students will be given feedback on individual assignments, and solutions to selected tutorial problems will be shown at subsequent lectures.

Timetabling information is displayed only for guidance purposes, relates to the current Academic Year only and is subject to change.
Lecture Offering 1 Week(s) - Autumn: All Weeks Tues 15:00 - 16:50