Laser Physics

by Simon Hooker and Colin Webb is published by Oxford University Press

In this book the interaction of radiation and matter, and the principles of laser operation are treated at a level suitable for fourth-year undergraduate courses or introductory graduate courses in physics, chemistry or engineering. The factors which determine efficiency, wavelength coverage, output power, and beam quality of the different classes of laser are treated both in terms of fundamental theory and practical construction aspects. Details of established types of solid-state, semiconductor, and gas lasers are examined together with the techniques that enable their output to be converted widely across the spectrum. The latest advances in high power fibre lasers, femtosecond lasers, and X-ray lasers are explained. The text is liberally illustrated with more than 300 diagrams. An extensive bibliography is provided, together with numerical problems in each chapter.

Readership: Final year undergraduates and first year graduates in physics, electrical engineering, and chemistry. Lecturers in physics, electrical engineering, and chemistry.

"This is an extraordinarily complete and interesting textbook on lasers. It covers all main topics in laser physics, from historical ruby lasers to the latest developments in non-linear optics, ultra-short pulse generation and frequency combs. This vast subject is treated with a unique and tasty blend of fundamental physics, engineering considerations and practical applications. The agreeable presentation makes it possible to get to the main points at a glance. All useful fundamental concepts, from atomic to solid state physics, from electromagnetism to optics, are clearly introduced, making the whole book extremely self-contained. It will thus be useful for a large audience, from undergraduate students to their professors, who will particularly appreciate the wealth of interesting exercises at the ends of the chapters. It will also rapidly become a reference on state-of-the art laser techniques for researchers and engineers."
Jean-Michel Raimond, Universite Pierre et Marie Curie

Solutions to Exercises

A Solutions Manual is now available for instructors.

Further comments and reviews

"This is an absolute tour de force in laser physics and is set to establish itself as a key undergraduate text in this topical area, however, it most certainly would not be out of place as an indispensable reference in the research laboratory. A comprehensive treatment is provided for the basic operation of a generic laser through to the characteristics of all the important modern laser systems and the key features such as single frequency operation, ultrashort pulse generation and measurement and application to non linear optics."
J.R. Taylor, Imperial College, London

"This textbook is well suited for advanced undergraduate and graduate students. It is written with the fine-tuned pedagogical style of master teachers, and it is replete with well-integrated figures and insightful problem sets at the end of each chapter."
Barry R. Masters, OPN Optics & Photonics News 2011

"There is no question in my mind that for expositional clarity and completeness this book far surpasses all the others I've seen. The authors are to be congratulated. I have little doubt it will be become the standard Laser Physics text against which all others will have to be judged (and mostly found wanting). The treatment of explanatory footnotes is superb; it immediately raised the question of why it wasn't done this way years ago? The ability to jot down notes in a truly generous margin is also a great feature. It's not only a textbook for students; from my point of view everyone working with lasers will find it useful. It may become the standard quick reference for lasers; the book everyone reaches for when a question comes up."
Alan White, Formerly of Bell Laboratories, and co-inventor of the red HeNe gas laser

"Very well-written while using a clear and concise style. Figures are plentiful and neatly printed...impressive array of topics. Laser Physics , by Hooker and Webb, is highly recommended as a text book and to practitioners seeking to review some of the basics."
Optics Journal

"This recommended book provides a very readable and comprehensive account of laser physics, extending from basic background material common to most laser systems to more detailed information on most of the main types of laser, including the solid state, semiconductor, fibre, gas and dye varieties."
Rodney Loudon FRS, University of Essex

"Hooker and Webb provides a wide ranging and very thorough grounding in laser physics that is both accessible and mathematically comprehensive. Topics range from the fundamentals of rate equations and cavity design through to the most recent advances in short wavelength and ultra-fast laser systems and measurement techniques."
Roland Smith, Imperial College, London

"Hooker and Webb have drawn on their vast experience of laser research to produce a textbook which is a real tour de force. The lucid treatment of fundamental laser physics in the early chapters is followed by a detailed account of modern laser materials and devices. This superb book will undoubtedly become an essential text for undergraduates and researchers alike."
S.L. Cornish, Durham University

"This is an excellent introductory textbook on lasers. Basic principles are presented with careful attention paid to the underlying physics. The text's clarity and style reflect the extensive road-testing that the material has received through exposure to generations of Oxford physics students. The principles are further illuminated through detailed discussion of specific laser systems of particular prominence. These serve as exemplars and also provide an up-to-date view of the rapidly evolving landscape of lasers and their applications. This makes the book attractive not only to students but to practitioners and researchers in need of relevant facts and figures."
David Hanna, University of Southampton


Laser Physics is available in bookshops, or direct from OUP


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A list of known errors may be downloaded from the panel on the right (updated 20th April 2016).

Other information

Simon Hooker's research group

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