Section 4: Light-Matter Interactions

Finally, we have gotten to one of the most interesting parts of optics: how light interacts with matter! Light-matter interactions describe the tricky physics of absorption, scattering, and emission of photons by atoms in a material. This discussion is necessary to account for the operation of a laser, saturable absorbers, waveplates; anything anytime light is coming into contact with matter. For the majority of the discussion, we will leave the wave picture intact, as it can still describe a surprising amount of the physics involved. However, for the quantum picture of light-matter interactions, visit the treatment in the lasers section of this website. Click below for the next step in the journey: the Lorentz Model!

Table of Contents:

  1. Electric Dipole Radiation
  2. Polarization
  3. Lorentz Atom Model
  4. Light Forces
  5. Index of Refraction & Sellmeier’s Equation
  6. Resonant Absorption and Dispersion
  7. Plasmons and Surface Plasmons

Click here for the next Section: Electric Dipole Radiation

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