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OSE3200L- Geometric Optics Lab

Laboratory for the companion course OSE3200 (Geometrical Optics). Light as rays. Reflection, refraction, transmission. Lenses, mirrors, prisms. Image formation, beam manipulation. Measure and characterize optical systems like telescopes, cameras, and microscopes.

Credits: 1 hour

Corequisite:  OSE 3200 Geometric Optics

Detailed course description:

Geometric optics is the study of light in its simplest form by treating light as rays. Light rays travel in straight lines until they encounter an interface (such as a mirror or a lens) where they may be redirected by reflection and refraction. This course provides hand-on experience working with light-sources, manipulating light and assembling optical systems. Labs explore the classical, ray behavior of light to describe behavior at interfaces and propagation through systems. This course provides practical experience working with optics in a laboratory environment including experience handling optics, assembling optomechanical components, conducting experiments and performing data analysis.

Learning Outcomes:

Upon completion of this course, students should understand the physical principles underlying geometrical optics and develop intuitive understanding of optical systems. They should understand how light propagates through optical systems and how to design/build simple systems. They should be able to characterize properties of common optical systems such as telescopes, imagers, luminaires and concentrators. For example, students should be able to:

  • Manipulate light sources to achieve a desired effect.
  • Assemble an optical system.
  • Characterize the properties of various optical systems.
  • Design an imaging system with a desired resolution, field-of-view and magnification.
  • Understand limitations in optical system performance.


  1. Introduction to Geometric Optics – Light as Rays: Wave nature of light, propagation in homogeneous media, wavefronts and rays, radiometry, limits of geometrical optics.
  2. Planar Optical Surfaces: Refractive index, optical path length, Fermat’s principle, Snell’s law, reflection and refraction, plane parallel plates, prisms, optical materials.
  3. Curved Optical Surfaces: Image formation, lenses, optical spaces, image types, shape of optical surfaces, ray tracing, paraxial approximation. 
  4. Imaging: Lens design, thin lens model, magnification, ZZ’ diagram, cardinal points, Gaussian optics, thick lenses, mirrors.
  5. Apertures: Aperture stop, field stop, F-number, numerical aperture, depth of focus.
  6. Example Optical Systems: Telescopes, cameras, microscopes, luminaires, concentrators, displays.
  7. Aberrations: Diffraction limit, chromatic and monochromatic aberrations.


Geometrical and Trigonometric Optics, 1st ed., E. L. Dereniak, and T. D. Dereniak, Cambridge University Press 2008.

The digital version of the course textbook is available for free through the UCF Libraries.  You can view it on the Web or download a PDF version to read offline.  Accessing the text off-campus requires that you authenticate as a UCF student.  Link: