Optics, Light and Lasers

Published By: Wiley-VCH

Book Category: Non-Fiction, Science

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Reviewed by Muhammed Hassanali

Dieter Meschede's book Optics, Light and Lasers seems to be divided into three main sections: Chapters 1-6 cover optics; Chapters 7-11 cover lasers and their application; and the third section covers "advanced" topics related to optics and lasers. The first two chapters introduce the reader to the characteristics of light through the presentation of ray optics and wave optics. The three subsequent chapters (chapters 3 to 5) discuss the interaction of light with matter. Although Chapter 6 focuses on optics, it sets up a nice transition from optics to lasers by discussing radiation, inversion and optical gain.

Chapters 7-8 provide a concise overview of the different types of lasers and some of their main applications. These two chapters along with Chapter 9 on semiconductor lasers, provide an excellent summary of the current state of the art in lasers and basic laser theory. The next two chapters cover light sensors and spectroscopy.

Chapters 12-13 briefly introduce nonlinear optics; Appendix A tries to give physical meaning to some of the terms mathematical used in optics relationships; and Appendix B scratches the surface of quantum mechanics. One could skip these sections without detracting from the subject matter or straying too far from the text.

Meschede has liberally scattered the text with sections titled "example" and "excursion." The main difference is that "example" typically presents a special case of the phenomenon discussed, while "excursion" shows a practical example utilizing the theory.

These diversions provide an opportunity to better understand the material. However, in some cases, this reviewer did not see the relevance of some of the excursions.

Optics, Light and Lasers has been translated from German, (Optik, Licht und Laser, Tenbner, 1999). Possibly, because of translation, some of the sentences require more than one reading. The Bibliography has a good references, sparingly referenced in the text. These would be more useful if relevant ones were at the end of each chapter, or were categorized by subject.

The book assumes the reader is familiar with electrodynamics, basic quantum mechanics, and multivariable calculus. It provides a good overview of classical optics with relevant examples from recent applications.

Armchair Interviews says: This is an excellent overview of lasers and basic laser theory.

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