1st course in the Active Optical Devices Specialization

Instructor: Juliet Gopinath, Ph.D., Professor

You will learn about semiconductor light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and lasers, and the important rules for their analysis, planning, design, and implementation. You will also apply your knowledge through challenging homework problem sets to cement your understanding of the material and prepare you to apply in your career.

Prior knowledge needed: Undergraduate courses in physics, calculus, multivariable calculus, differential equations, modern physics/waves, electromagnetism quantum mechanics or quantum physics, statistical mechanics or thermal physics semiconductor physics. Graduate level courses in physical optics, lasers, and completion of semiconductor devices specialization (ECEA 5630 Semiconductor Physics, ECEA 5631 Diode: Junction and Metal Semiconductor Contact, and ECEA 5632 Transistor: field effect transistor and bipolar junction transistor). 

Specific skills to review before the course: Unit conversions for energy (i.e. eV to J) Planck's constant, Trigonometric & exponential functions, Algebraic manipulation, Partial derivatives, Polarization, Jones matrices/vectors, Conventional laser stimulated emission theory, Maxwell–Boltzmann vs. Fermi vs. Bose statistics, Quantum solution to the particle-in-the-box potential, and Basics of a semiconductor.

Learning Outcomes

  • Design a semiconductor light-emitting diode and analyze the efficiency.
  • Design a semiconductor laser.
  • Choose suitable semiconductor materials for light-emitting devices.


Duration: 3 hours

In this module, you will learn the fundamental operating principles, design, fabrication techniques, and applications of two of the most widely used light-emitting devices in the world today - light-emitting diodes and semiconductor lasers. We will review the basics of semiconductor physics and you will learn how we can manipulate the materials to tailor electrical and optical properties.

Duration: 3 hours

In this module, we will apply the knowledge of the basics of semiconductor physics we learned in the previous module to understand how semiconductors emit light and the basis for optoelectronic devices such as lasers and light-emitting diodes.

Duration: 2 hours

In this module, we will apply the knowledge we learned about how semiconductors can emit light In the last module, to learn about the basics of light-emitting diodes. These devices are everywhere you turn and you now have the tools to develop a complete understanding of their operation.

Duration: 2 hours

In this module, we will use our knowledge of semiconductors and in particular, radiative recombination, to tackle an even more powerful device, the semiconductor laser. This technology is probably the most successful laser technology of our time, with every compact disc player incorporating a 6-cent semiconductor laser.

Duration: 3 hours

In this module, we will extend the knowledge about the basics of semiconductor lasers to understand the design principles behind this very successful technology. After the module, you will wonder, how it is possible to produce a semiconductor laser for 6 cents!

Duration: 3 hours

In this module, we will learn about advanced concepts that have enabled the current generation of semiconductor lasers.

Duration: 2 hours

Final exam for this course.

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Percentage of Grade

Quiz: Semiconductor Fundamentals


Quiz: Radiative Recombination in Semiconductors


Quiz: Light Emitting Diode (LED)


Quiz: Fundamentals of Semiconductor Lasers


Quiz: Semiconductor Laser Design Principles


Quiz: Advanced Semiconductor Laser Design Principles


Final Exam


Letter Grade Rubric

Letter Grade 
Minimum Percentage