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Electromagnetic waves : optics and propagation in materials


Programme (detailed contents):

Interference (phase difference, temporal and spatial coherences, localized and non-localized interferences, Young slits, gratings). Diffraction (Huygens-Fresnel Principle, rectangular and circular apertures, the Rayleigh criterium). Electromagnetism in materials. Electromagnetic waves motion in linear, homogeneous and isotropic materials. Continuity equations. Application to the reflection and the refraction. Propagation in rectangular metallic wave guides.




The student will be given supports for lectures, tutorials and labwork. The lectures focus on the new concepts, their illustration and the demonstrations of some mathematical expressions related to the physical phenomena. The tutorials directly relate to the lectures through practical examples, just like the labwork does.



Main difficulties for students:

The main difficulties for students relate to the use of the mathematical tools associated to the lectures and the tutorials. They concern calculations with vector fields and complex numbers. Moreover, they experiment some difficulties to exploit their knowledge in physics to establish a model of wave propagation.


At the end of this module, the student will have understood and be able to explain the concepts of temporal and spatial coherences of two light sources, the interference and diffraction phenomena, the propagation of electromagnetic waves in simple material (linear, homogeneous and isotropic, dielectric, magnetic or conductive), the reflection and the refraction at one interface, the principle of rectangular metallic wave guides and of the electromagnetic energy transport.


The student will be able to calculate the interference patterns in the case of two Young slits and of diffraction grating, and the diffraction pattern in the case of rectangular aperture. He will also be able to use the Maxwell equation to determine the nature of the electromagnetic waves in a simple system (L.H.I. material, interface between two materials, confined space between two planes of conductive material).

Needed prerequisite

Electromagnetism course (static and quasi-static)

Mathematical tools: complex number, vector field, differential calculus.

Form of assessment

The evaluation of outcome prior learning is made as a continuous training during the semester. According ot the teaching, the assessment will be different: as a written exam, an oral exam, a record, a written report, peers review...

Additional information

Wave theory, interference, diffraction, electromagnetic wave propagation