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Detection of Light b

Course 2019-2020

Please note that this course description is preliminary. The final course description will be released in the Summer of 2019.

Admission requirements


Part b will expand this course to cover recent detector technologies, such as:

  • Microwave kinetic inductance detectors (MKIDs)
  • Transition edge sensors (TES)
  • Avalanche photodiodes
  • Detection of high energy photons

In addition, the course covers the uncertainty principle in photon detection as well as the development, testing and characterization of infrared (IR) detectors. The emphasis of part b is on applications and technical realization.

Course objectives

The main objectives of this course are to provide an overview of:

  • Technologies and underlying physics used to detect electromagnetic radiation from UV to sub-millimeter wavelengths;
  • The most common devices to be found in astronomical instruments;
  • Performance aspects, mitigation of artefacts and calibration strategies relevant to the data analysis;
  • Future detector technologies for astronomy;
  • Acquisition, selection and compilation of technical information into a research project.

Soft skills

In this course, students will be trained in the following behaviour-oriented skills:

  • Problem solving (recognizing and analyzing problems, solution-oriented thinking)
  • Analytical skills (analytical thinking, abstraction, evidence)
  • Project management – planning, scope, boundaries, result-orientation
  • Motivation – commitment, pro-active attitude, initiative
  • Verbal communication – presenting, speaking, listening
  • Written communication (writing skills, reporting, summarizing)
  • Critical thinking (asking questions, check assumptions)
  • Creative thinking – resourcefulness, curiosity, thinking out of the box
  • Integrity (honesty, moral, ethics, personal values)


See Astronomy master schedules

Mode of instruction

Lectures given by guest lecturers, most of them from outside Leiden University

Assessment method

  • Mandatory attendance of the guest lectures
  • Literature study/research report related to one of the topical guest lectures, to be completed within six weeks after the topic has been chosen (deadlines will be listed on the course website, see below). Grading will be according to the classification insufficient/sufficient/good. If the report is graded ‘insufficient’ the student will be offered to resubmit an improved version of the report within two weeks. In this case, the grade of the resubmitted report cannot be higher than 6.0.


Students must enroll on Blackboard before the first lecture. Blackboard will be used to communicate with students and to share lecture slides, homework assignments, and any extra materials. To have access, you need a student ULCN account.

Reading list

Detection of Light – from the Ultraviolet to the Submillimeter, by George Rieke, 2nd Edition, 2003, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0-521-01710-6. Required


Via uSis. More information about signing up for your classes can be found here. Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see the Prospective students website for information on how to apply.

Contact information

Lecturer: Prof.dr. B.R. (Bernhard) Brandl
Assistant: To be announced