Optics Textbook

Textbook Cover

 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 text may not be sold for profit. If you would like to use it in a class, you may provide copies to the students for the cost of printing.
  • Please do not publish solutions to the homework problems.
  • Please let us know if you use the text for either personal or classroom study; we would like to know how widely the book is used! 

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, available here:

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

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.

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 2015 edition would be cited as:

J. Peatross and M. Ware, Physics of Light and Optics, 2015 edition, available at optics.byu.edu