Difference between revisions of "Optics Obstacle Course"

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(Materials to borrow when necessary)
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=== Materials to borrow when necessary ===
=== Materials to borrow when necessary ===
- Oscilloscope<br>
- Oscilloscope<br>
- Chopper<br>
- [[Media:SRS_CHopper.jpg | Chopper]]<br>
- Power meter<br>
- [[Media:Powermeters.png | Power meter]]<br>
- Extra optics as needed<br>
- Extra optics as needed<br>
=== Activities ===
=== Activities ===

Revision as of 13:51, 16 April 2015

Permanent Materials (located on optical breadboard or in storage cabinet):


- Optics cleaning materials
- Helium Neon laser
- 4 mirrors
- Telescope lens pair (Newport KPX.097 and KPX.085)
- 3 irises and a pinhole
- Quarter waveplate @633
- Half waveplate @ 633
- Thorlabs DET110 photodetector
- Various optomechanics (mirror mounts, lens holders, baseplates, etc)
- Beam block/alignment tools
- Mystery optic
- Pedrotti Introduction to Optics book

Materials to borrow when necessary

- Oscilloscope
- Chopper
- Power meter
- Extra optics as needed


You should have the necessary tools at your disposal to complete the following. Instructions are intentionally a bit sparse to encourage thoughtful exploration of the system. The left-hand-side of the optical breadboard is permanent storage for the optics (leave the bases and post holders where they are), and the right-hand-side contains optomechanics you can use in positioning elements in the 'sandbox' area.


Keep a journal of your activities, results and answers to any questions asked in the activities below. You will use this for your brief write-up.

('Inspect all optics before use and appropriately' clean if necessary: See ebook and/or ask the instructor/TA for help)

  1. Read laser safety, optics common sense info (chapter 1 of the ebook "Laboratory Optics - A Practical Guide To working in an Optics Lab").
    Throughout this exercise, please make an effort to never allow the laser or any reflection/retroreflection leave the boundary of the optical table
  2. Use two mirrors to set the beam height to a level 4” above optical table. Is the light polarized? If not, polarize it, aligning the axis of polarization vertically
  3. Use mirrors to pass beam through two irises (or two beam alignment cards), aligned along a row of holes on the table.
    You now have a level beam with set polarization that is pointing in a known direction. This is an appropriately initialized optical setup.
  4. Measure the power of the beam using two techniques: a power meter; and the Thorlabs photodetector and an oscilloscope (for this second method, you'll need to look up the responsivity curve on the detector datasheet).
    1. If the photodetector appears to be saturating, you will need to use neutral density filters to reduce the power.
    2. For insight to what the numbers on the filters mean, measure the Optical Density (OD) of the blue laser goggles at the HeNe wavelength
  5. Read about half and quarter waveplates before doing the following:
    1. How does vertically polarized light interact with the polarizing beamsplitter cube? Use the half waveplate to rotate the axis of polarization to be horizontal. Now what happens with the cube? Finally, rotate the axis of polarization to be 45 degrees from vertical
    2. Align the axis of the quarter waveplate so that the beam is circularly polarized. How do you know it’s circular and not elliptical?
  6. Build a 1:2 telescope to expand the beam
    1. Draw a simple ray diagram to estimate the magnification you expect for the two supplied lenses
    2. Be sure to position the lenses so the beam is centered (hint: you should do this by observing the output beam location, not merely by eyeballing where the beam hits the lens)
    3. Ensure collimation after second lens. Does the magnification match your prediction?
  7. Place a pinhole at the focus of the telescope. How does this affect the properties of the beam? Why does this happen?
  8. Focus light onto a small photodiode. Use a chopper and oscilloscope to measure the rise time of the diode. How does thIs rise time compare to a photodiode of larger area?
  9. Identify the mystery optic.
  10. Submit a write-up outlining your activities, results and the answers to all the questions asked above.

After you finish, please return items to the storage location and clear the 'sandbox' area.



  • Considering the Fresnel relations on the reflection of light off a strongly absorbing medium - linearly polarized light is usually elliptically polarized after reflection off a metallic mirror except for the cases where the incoming polarization is parallel or perpendicular to the plane of incidence.