Phys 785

Phys 785: Electrodynamics and Modern Applications

Time and Location

Monday 4:30-7:10pm, Jan 21 to May 14, Exploratory Hall 1004
Office hours: 2-3pm, Monday, Planetary Hall (ST1) Room 207

Lecture Notes

Lecture Notes 1 (pdf) 
Lecture Notes 2 (pdf) 
Lecture Notes 3 (pdf) 
Lecture Notes 4 (pdf) 
Lecture Notes 5 (pdf) 
Lecture Notes 6 (pdf) 
Lecture Notes 7 (pdf) 
Lecture Notes 8 (pdf) 
Lecture Notes 9 (pdf) 
Lecture Notes 10 (pdf) 
Lecture Notes 11 (pdf) 


Homework 1 (pdf) 
Homework 2 (pdf) 
Homework 3 (pdf) 

Course Goals

This course is designed to broaden your perspective and deepen your understanding of time-dependent electromagnetic phenomena. You will develop a thorough understanding of the radiation and propagation of electromagnetic fields, and their interaction with matter. We will also explore the intimate relation between Maxwell’s theory, which unites electricity, magnetism and light, with Einstein’s theory of special relativity, Lagrangian mechanics, and quantum field theories. A good command of these topics will lay a firm foundation for students in any subfields of physics and astronomy to tackle more advanced topics and the research literature.
The emphasis of this course will be on conceptual development, rather than computational techniques. The students are encouraged to ask questions, participate discussions, and suggest topics during the lecture. Homework projects are due bi-weekly, and make contact with current research topics. The students will present their term project near the end of the course.


Classical Electrodynamics, 3rd edition, J. D. Jackson, Wiley


Homework (50%) + Term Project (50%).


It is desired that students have already taken Phys 685 (Classical Electrodynamics I), but only a good understanding of undergraduate E&M on the level Griffiths is required.


The lecture will deviate from the order and content of the textbook. The topics are roughly divided into three parts.
  1. Covariant electromagnetic field theory.
  2. Radiation from moving charge and localized source.
  3. Propagation of electromagnetic waves in confined geometry and in matter.

Term projects

Here are some examples of topics chosen by students in the previous years:
  1. Transmission lines and distributed circuit theory
  2. Optical fibers and the 100G technology
  3. Magnetic resonance and an atom magnetometer
  4. Photonic crystals
  5. A Java simulation of ray optics
  6. The 3D magnetic structure of Sun spots
  7. Parallel simulation of electrodynamics in real world applications
  8. Quantization of E&M field: a glimpse into QED
  9. Solar wind interation with earth’s magnetic field
  10. The characteristics of infared radiation, infared cameras and detectors
  11. Bremsstrahlung in astrophysics
  12. The radiation pattern of reflector antenna
  13. Ionospheric sounding
  14. X-ray radiation from black holes
  15. E&M properties of superconductors
  16. Reflection of light from a topological insulator