An Introduction to Laser Physics and Systems


This module will present the fundamentals of laser devices. The module will start with the Einstein equations, provide the conditions to have lasing and the characteristics of this lasing radiation. An introduction to the generation of laser pulses will be provided with the introduction of the mode locking and Q-Switching techniques. Finally the most common met laser systems in an undergraduate and postgraduate laboratories will be presented. Such systems are: diode lasers, He-Neon Lasers, Ti:Sapphire Lasers, Nd:YAG laser systems.


Chapter One
Historical Review of Lasers, General Properties of Laser Light, Fundamental Building Blocks of a Laser Device

Chapter Two
Einstein Equations, Absorption of Light, Small gain coefficient, Threshold Point, Population Inversion, 3-level & 4-level energy laser systems, Population Inversion at threshold

Chapter Three
Examples of laser systems: (1) Helium Neon Laser; (2) Argon Ion Laser System; (3) Laser Diodes; (4) Nd:YAG; (5)Copper Vapor; (6)Dye Laser

Chapter Four
Emission Linewidth, Broadening Mechanisms: Inhomogeneous and Homogeneous Broadening Mechanisms, The Lineshape function

Chapter Five
Absorption/Emission Cross Section, Gain Saturation

Chapter Six
The Resonator, Resonator Modes: Longitudinal Modes & Transverse Modes, Resonator Stability Condition

Chapter Seven
Matrix Optics

Chapter Eight
Gaussian Optics, Spatial Hole Burning, Ring Cavities

Chapter Nine
Coupled Rate Equations, Q-Switching: Passive & Active, Mode – Locking: Active & Passive

Learning Outcomes

  • Learning Fundamentals of Lasers
  • Learning Fundamental Lasers Systems


1. Laser Fundamentals by W.T. Silfvast, Cambridge University Press
2. Laser Physics, S. Hooker & C. Webb, Oxford University Press
3. Principles of Lasers, O. Svelto
4. Laser Lecture Notes, University of St-Andrews

External Evaluator

Prof. Graham Turnbul (St-Andrews)

Responsible Academic

Associate Prof. Konstantinos Petridis (TEI of Crete)