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Proceedings Paper • Open Access

Using computer-assisted demonstrations of optical phenomena in an undergraduate optics course
Author(s): John T. Tarvin; Stephen H. Cobb; Louis M. Beyer

Paper Abstract

A set of computer programs has been developed for the visual presentation of introductory optical phenomena. These computer simulations were created to serve a dual purpose: as demonstration aids in an NSF-sponsored Optics Demonstration Laboratory, and as teaching aids in undergraduate geometrical and physical optics courses. In the field of diffractive optics, simulations include the calculation of intensity patterns for unobscured and obscured apertures in both rectangular and circular geometries. These patterns can be compared to those measured in the laboratory with a CCD camera. A program for calculating the diffraction pattern for a two-dimensional aperture of arbitrary shape has also been developed. These programs, when coordinated with homework assignments, allow students to compare their theoretical derivations with a correct numerical solution for the same problem. In the field of geometrical optics, a ray-trace program appropriate for gradient-index fibers with cylindrical symmetry has been developed. This program enables the student to study the focusing properties of such fibers, and to predict how such properties depend on the index profile and on the length of the optical fiber. Examples of these programs will be presented, along with a report on the success of these programs as a vehicle for imparting a conceptual understanding of the physical principles involved.

Paper Details

Date Published: 13 October 1995
PDF: 4 pages
Proc. SPIE 2525, 1995 International Conference on Education in Optics, (13 October 1995); doi: 10.1117/12.224022
Show Author Affiliations
John T. Tarvin, Samford Univ. (United States)
Stephen H. Cobb, Murray State Univ. (United States)
Louis M. Beyer, Murray State Univ. (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 2525:
1995 International Conference on Education in Optics
M. J. Soileau, Editor(s)

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