Optics Education

Optics Textbook

Physics of Light and Optics is a high-quality free textbook desiged for an advanced undergraduate optics course for physics majors. It is used at universities around the world. You are welcome to use the text for your course or personal study or for a formal course within the following guidelines:

The textbook is available in PDF format on this web site, and also as a printed and bound copy available for the cost of printing. 

The authors (Justin Peatross and Michael Ware) welcome constructive feedback, which can be sent to opticsbook@byu.edu.

Attention Students in BYU Physics 471:
Please purchase your paper copy from the bookstore rather than online.  The bookstore orders enough for the whole class and spreads the shipping charge over everybody to reduce costs.

Why an online textbook?

While the authors retain the copyright to the book, we have made this book available free of charge as our contribution toward a future with free textbooks! We firmly believe in the free market system, and in the case of upper division physics textbooks, traditional publishing methods usually make little economic sense for the author or reader.  The small royalty from traditional publishing comes with a giant overhead that make the book nearly cost prohibitive to many students (especially those in developing countries), and the author gives up control of his work to the publishing company.  Electronic tools make it easy to produce and distribute a professional product (see our section on creating a textbook), and it can be revised, corrected, and enhanced on the authors' timetable. If you are thinking about publishing a book this way, we highly recommend it.

Editions of the Book

Citing the Book

Because traditional book citations are tied to publishers, we periodically get inquiries about how to cite the book.  Our preference for citations is to use the normal style for a book, but replace the publisher with a reference to this web site.  For example, the current edition would be cited as:

J. Peatross and M. Ware, Physics of Light and Optics, 2013 edition, available at optics.byu.edu