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Wilfrid Laurier University Faculty of Science
February 26, 2015
Canadian Excellence

Craig Bond and Adam Prescott , Directed Studies Course


The Honours Photonics program is an Honours Physics program specializing in photonics. The aim of the program is to provide a solid physics background and to develop a strong understanding of the theory and application of photonics, with specific emphasis on data communications and networks, and with practical hands-on exposure to optics, fibre optics, and lasers.

Career examples of our graduates:

  • optical engineer
  • research engineer (radiation detection)
  • nuclear research physicist
  • financial analyst
  • biomedical engineer
  • sales and marketing manager (photonics devices)
  • combat systems engineer
  • high school teacher
Eighty percent of our graduates do a Masters degree before pursuing some of the above jobs at universities within Ontario as well as top schools such as Laval, Rochester, and Cornell.

The Department of Physics & Computer Science at Wilfrid Laurier University has a long-standing and strong background in photonics and optics. Faculty members in the Department of Physics and Computer Science have backgrounds in physics, engineering, mathematics, and computer science. Although photonics could be taught from a purely physics perspective, the interdisciplinary nature of the department allows us to offer an integrated BSc in Photonics based on a core of courses in photonics with an emphasis on applications in communication and networks, physics, and mathematics. Courses in digital electronics, analog electronics and computing are included to provide an introduction to the electronics and software design required for the interfacing, design, and simulation of photonics systems.

Just as electronics was the dominant enabling technology in the last century, it is anticipated that photonics will be the dominant enabling technology of this century. University graduates with the necessary fundamental education in mathematics and physics, and courses in optics, lasers, and photonics are needed to develop and sustain the industry.

What is Photonics?

Photonics is a rapidly emerging discipline associated with the generation, manipulation, transmission and detection of light and energy. The word photonics is derived from “photon”, an individual particle of light or packet of electromagnetic energy. Consequently, photonics is the study of how photons behave and is commonly used to describe the technology associated with the manipulation, generation, flow and capture of photons.

Opto-electronics and electro-optics are terms used for devices that use electrical fields or currents to directly generate, manipulate or detect light. The development of opto-electronic technologies such as the semiconductor laser have opened up new photonics applications.

Light is fundamental physical phenomena. Combine light with electronics and algorithms and you have an amazing number and variety of applications for photonics. Accordingly, photonics is influencing many industry sectors, including: information technology and telecommunications, health care and life sciences, optical sensing, lighting and energy, manufacturing, defence, fabrication of optical components and systems, pure research and education, space exploration and environmental monitoring.

Co-op Experience

All full-time honours students in Photonics may apply for the co-op option. Admission to this limited-enrolment option is competitive and is based on academic record, recent work and volunteer experience, extracurricular activities and interview performance. Photonics students complete two work terms of at least 10 weeks each, usually in the summers following their second and third years.

Professional Experience Program

All full-time honours students in the Computing & Computer Electronics program may apply for the Professional Experience Program (PEP). Admission to this limited-enrolment option is competitive and is based on academic record, recent work and volunteer experience, extracurricular activities and interview performance. PEP students complete one 12 to 16 month work term after their third year of study. The extended continuous work term allows Professional Experience Program participants to engage in a project of reasonable complexity and see it to completion.

Sample Schedule: Photonics with two co-op work terms.

Fall Term Winter Term Summer Term
Year 1 Introduction to Programming
Intro to Differential & Integral Calculus
Introductory Linear Algebra
one elective course
Data Structures
Intro to Differential & Integral Calculus
Introduction to Mathematical Proofs
Thermodynamics & Waves
Digital Electronics
Summer vacation
Year 2 Multivariable Calculus
Differential Equations I
Electronics Laboratory I
Electricity and Magnetism
one elective course
Continuous and Discrete Transforms
Analog Electronics
Classical Mechanics
Modern Physics
Work Term 1
Year 3 Electronics Laboratory II
Quantum Mechanics I
Thermodynamics & Statistical Physics
Data Communications & Networks
Fibre Optics
one elective course
Quantum Mechanics II
Electromagnetic Theory
Intro to Scientific Computation
two elective courses
Work Term 2
Year 4 Solid State Physics
Lasers and Electro-optics
one physics elective course
two elective courses
Photonic Devices
Optical Networks
one physics elective course
two elective courses