You are not currently logged in. Please create an account or sign in to view the full course.

Optics II

4. Quantum Aspects of Light

This is the course trailer. Please create an account or sign in to view this lecture.

  • Description
  • Cite

About this Lecture


In this mini-lecture, we explore light in the context of quantum physics. In particular, we consider: (i) the wave-particle duality of light; (ii) quantum technology, including quantum computers and their basic building blocks involving optical circuits; (iii) Thomas Young’s double slit experiment that displays light behaving as a wave; (iv) an interactive simulation (Physics Education Technology, University of Colorado, Wave Interference Simulation, 2021) illustrating the double slit experiment; (v) the double slit experiment done with very dim light so that one photon at a time passes through the slits, which still results in a wave-like interference pattern; (vi) the thought experiment known as Heisenberg’s microscope that helps us understand which path the photon took through the slits to get to the screen; (vii) complementarity in quantum mechanics, in which we can only see the wave-like property of light or the particle-like property of light, not both; and (viii) some quotes from Richard Feynman’s Messenger Lectures at Cornell University in 1964.


In this course, Professor Charles Adams (Durham University) follows from his Optics I course and provides a more advanced account of optics. In the first mini-lecture, we discuss lenses, this time going into more depth by first deriving the thin lens equation and then looking at the additive property of the optical power of lenses. In the second mini-lecture, we revisit refraction, derive the Law of Ibn Sahl (also known as Snell’s Law), and introduce the concepts of the critical angle and total internal reflection. The third mini-lecture introduces the polarisation of light, including historical context on the development of polaroid sheets, as well as two demonstrations that involve light propagating through sugar syrup and a polaroid sheet. The fourth mini-lecture delves into the quantum aspects of light, introducing topics such as wave-particle duality, quantum technology, Young’s double slit experiment, the Heisenberg microscope, and complementarity.


Charles Adams is a Professor in the Department of Physics at Durham University. His principal research interests are in experimental quantum optics, in particular light-matter interactions in strongly-interacting atomic systems. He was the 2014 recipient of the Joseph Thomson Medal, awarded by the Institute of Physics (IOP) to those who have made distinguished contributions to atomic or molecular physics. In 2020, he was awarded the Holweck Prize by the French Physical Society and the IOP for pioneering work in quantum optics. Professor Adams is also a co-author of the optics textbook Optics f2f: From Fourier to Fresnel (2018).

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Adams, C. (2022, January 12). Optics II - Quantum Aspects of Light [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Adams, Charles. "Optics II – Quantum Aspects of Light." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 12 Jan 2022,

Image Credits

Get instant access to over 4,000 lectures