Nanophotonics and Detectors (Coursera)

Nanophotonics and Detectors is online course offered by University of Colorado Boulder via Coursera.

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Nanophotonics and Detectors (Coursera)


Nanophotonics and Detectors course can also be taken for academic credit as ECEA 5606, part of CU Boulder’s Master of Science in Electrical Engineering degree.

Nanophotonics and Detectors Introduction

This course dives into nanophotonic light emitting devices and optical detectors, including metal semiconductors, metal semiconductor insulators, and pn junctions. We will also cover photoconductors, avalanche photodiodes, and photomultiplier tubes. Weekly homework problem sets will challenge you to apply the principles of analysis and design we cover in preparation for real-world problems.

Course Learning Outcomes

At the end of this course you will be able to…
(1) Use nanophotonic effects (low dimensional structures) to engineer lasers
(2) Apply low dimensional structures to photonic device design (3) Select and design optical detector for given system and application.


Quantum Cascade Lasers

The course covers the basics of nanophotonic light emitting devices and optical detectors, including metal semiconductor, metal semiconductor insulator, and pn junctions, photoconductors, avalanche photodiodes and photomultiplier tubes. Low dimensional structures enable an entirely new class of devices. Join me on a journey to understand how this happens and explore powerful examples of successful technologies such as the quantum cascade laser.Module 1 will cover the quantum cascade laser, a laser design based on intersub-band transitions, that enables very long wavelength lasers. It will also talk about lasers that operate on intraband transitions, using low dimensional structures, which enable further control over carrier concentrations.

Confined photons

In this unit, we will learn how to confine photons just as we do with electrons. This gives us power over the allowed modes of emission, allowing us to enhance the performance of lasers as well as develop ‘threshold-less’ lasers. I hope you enjoy this exciting topic as much as I do.

photonic detection

In this module, you will learn about the basics of detection and the key performance metrics that are used to evaluate detectors including noise equivalent power and detectivity. This lays the building blocks for fundamental understanding, design, and use of different photonic detection technology. This is core information that should be in the wheelhouse of any photonics researcher or engineer.

metal insulator semiconductor structures

In this unit, you will learn about the fundamentals of how metal insulator semiconductor devices operate, their advantages and challenges they face. This information is particularly useful for understanding the operation of charge-coupled devices, discussed in the next section.

Charge Coupled Devices (CCDs) and Photoconductors

In this module, you will learn about two powerful detection technologies: charge coupled devices (CCDs) based on metal insulator semiconductor structures and photoconductors. These technologies are very useful for photonic systems.

P/N Junctions and Avalanche photodiodes (APDs)

In this module, you will learn about another very important detector technology: p-n junctions. These junctions can be used to be photodiodes as well as avalanche photodiodes. We will learn these important technologies function, with applications ranging from microscopy to light detection and ranging (LIDAR).


Juliet Gopinath

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Course Delivery


Course Efforts

15 Hours

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Course Length

6 Weeks

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Course Subtitles

English, French, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish

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