MPhys Physics

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Laser Photomedicine

Course unit fact file
Unit code PHYS40631
Credit rating 10
Unit level Level 4
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Available as a free choice unit? No


Laser Photomedicine


Unit title Unit code Requirement type Description
Introduction to Quantum Mechanics PHYS20101 Pre-Requisite Compulsory
Electromagnetism PHYS20141 Pre-Requisite Compulsory
Mathematics of Waves and Fields PHYS20171 Pre-Requisite Compulsory
Wave Optics PHYS20312 Pre-Requisite Compulsory


This course introduces students to the physics of medical lasers and light, including light tissue interactions; the properties of lasers and light, and delivery systems that are beneficial in medical applications; how light is utilised for imaging, diagnostic and therapeutic medical applications; and reviews selected medical applications.

Learning outcomes

On completion successful students will be able to:

1. Classify and describe the mechanisms associated with the interaction of light with tissue;
2. Explain the relevant properties of lasers and light delivery systems for applications in medicine;
3. Compare imaging, optical diagnostic and therapeutic applications in medicine and predict which are most appropriate for applications;
4. Discuss selected applications of lasers and optical techniques which are presently important in medicine


1.  Basic Tissue Optics and Laser Radiation – Tissue Interaction

2. Medical Laser and Delivery Systems
Technology of medical lasers and alternative light sources
Laser radiation characteristics
Light delivery systems
3. Diagnostic Techniques and Applications
Conventional, confocal and two-photon microscopy
Raman spectroscopy
Optical coherence tomography, laser Doppler, photoacoustic imaging
Optical tweezers for particle trapping
Tissue identification by optical, spectroscopic and imaging techniques

4.  Selected Medical Application
Laser surgery and microsurgery
Photomechanical applications in ophthalmology, lithotripsy
Photodynamic therapy
Selected applications in dermatology, ophthalmology, urology and dentistry.

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written exam 100%

Feedback methods


Feedback will be offered via comments on Blackboard for the continuously assessed elements of the unit. 

Recommended reading

Katzir, A., Lasers and Optical Fibers in Medicine, (Academic 1993)

Waynant, R.W., Lasers in Medicine, (CRC Press 2001)


Useful references

Niemz, M.H. Laser-Tissue Interactions, (Springer 1996)

Welch, A.J. & van Gemert, M.J.C. Optical-Thermal Response of Laser-Irradiated Tissue, (Plenum 1995)

Optical Radiation Techniques in Medicine and Biology in Physics in Medicine and Biology, vol. 42, No. 5, May 1997

To be supplemented by further recommended texts.


Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Assessment written exam 1
Lectures 24
Independent study hours
Independent study 75

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Mark Dickinson Unit coordinator

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