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Kimerling, Lionel C., and Sajan Saini, 3.46 Photonic Materials and Devices, Spring 2006. (Massachusetts Institute of Technology: MIT OpenCourseWare), (Accessed 07 Jul, 2010). License: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

Photonic Materials and Devices

Spring 2006

Microscope photo of end view of a multi-layered waveguide.
A photonic crystal waveguide manufactured on a silicon wafer using thermal oxidation, UV lithography and Chemical Vapor Deposition at MIT's Microsystems Technology Laboratories (MTL). See: Yi, Y., S. Akiyama, L. C. Kimerling, et al. Optics Express 12, no. 20 (2004): 4775-4780. (Photo by Prof. Lionel C. Kimerling.)

Course Highlights

This course features complete assignments and exams, and many lecture notes.

Course Description

This course covers the theory, design, fabrication and applications of photonic materials and devices. After a survey of optical materials design for semiconductors, dielectrics and polymers, the course examines ray optics, electromagnetic optics and guided wave optics; physics of light-matter interactions; and device design principles of LEDs, lasers, photodetectors, modulators, fiber and waveguide interconnects, optical filters, and photonic crystals. Device processing topics include crystal growth, substrate engineering, thin film deposition, etching and process integration for dielectric, silicon and compound semiconductor materials. The course also covers microphotonic integrated circuits and applications in telecom/datacom systems. Course assignments include four design projects that emphasize materials, devices and systems applications.


This page includes a calendar listing lecture topics and key dates.


The primary course text is:

 Saleh, B. E. A., and M. C. Teich. Fundamentals of Photonics. New York, NY: Wiley, 1991. ISBN: 9780471839651.

Readings assigned from this book will be supplemented by lecture notes, selections from other books, journal articles, and other handouts.

Class Format

First Lecture per week:

  • Quiz (10 minutes)
  • Review of last class and student questions
  • Lecture

Second Lecture per week:

  • Homework due
  • Review of last class and student questions
  • Lecture

Singapore-MIT Alliance (SMA) Workgroups

This class is offered concurrently to students at MIT and in Singapore via the Singapore-MIT Alliance. Students will assigned to Workgroups for weekly homeworks and Design Review projects. Each group will consist of 2-3 students at MIT and 2-3 students in Singapore.


Students will be given weekly homework assignments. One solution will be submitted per workgroup. All members of the group receive the same homework grade.

Design Review Projects

Workgroups must complete four design review projects during the term. These begin with an introduction and discussion during class, and proceed via Web site discussion forums and optional appointments with Prof. Kimerling. The final deliverables are:

  • 20 minute presentation (5-6 slides), during which all workgroup members must speak.
  • Two days later, submit corrected slides and a final two-page report.

Weekly Quizzes

The weekly quizzes cover two lectures from the previous week. They test student attentiveness, and assess each student's ability to:

  1. Grasp Concepts, and
  2. Retain Facts.


Homework (7) 30%
Quizzes (7) 30%
Design Reviews (4) 30%
Final Exam 10%

Course Calendar

1 Optical Materials Design 1  
2 Optical Materials Design 2  
3 System Design: TDM, WDM Homework 1 due
4 Ray Optics, EM Optics and Guided Wave Optics  
5 Waveguide Design Homework 2 due
6 WDM Filters: The Microcavity and the Ring Resonator  
7 Photonic Crystals Homework 3 due
8 Electrons in Semiconductors  
9 Photons in Semiconductors and Dielectrics Homework 4 due
  Design Review 1  
10 LEDs  
11 Optical Amplifiers and Lasers  
12 Crystal Growth Homework 5 due
13 Nonlinear Optics and Modulators  
14 Defects and Strain  
15 III-V Processing Homework 6 due
16 Detectors 1 Homework 7 due
  Design Review 2  
17 Detectors 2  
18 Microphotonics 1  
19 Microphotonics 2  
20 Nanophotonics  
  Design Review 3 (Part 1), Real-Time Design Review 4 (Part 1)  
  Design Review 3 (Part 2), Real-Time Design Review 4 (Part 2)  
21 Photonics Toolkit  
  Final Exam   Tell A Friend