Course Description

In this course, we consider the following concepts:

  • light,
  • polarized light
  • the interaction of light with transparent and absorbing materials

We then introduce the analytical method of ellipsometry and show how one determines thickness and optical functions of transparent and absorbing materials. We discuss the concepts of dispersion equations (how the index of refraction varies with wavelength) and the Kramers-Kronig relationship (how the index of refraction relates to the extinction coefficient). The representation of optical functions will be demonstrated for:

  • Tabulated lists
  • Simple Cauchy relationships
  • Cauchy relationships with a small about of absorption in the UV region of the spectrum
  • The use of oscillators (Lorentz, Gaussian, Drude, Tauc-Lorentz) in a dispersion relationship.

The determination of thickness and optical functions will be demonstrated for:

  • transparent substrates and transparent films
  • metal substrates
  • films which are absorbing in some of the spectral region and transparent in other spectral regions.

If time allows, we will discuss graded layers and anisotropic layers

Who Should Attend?

The intended audience is any engineer, technologist or student associated with or interested in using ellipsometry to characterize materials.


Harland Tompkins

Course Materials

Course Notes



Harland G. Tompkins, Ph.D. retired from full-time employment in 2001. During his full-time employment, he was employed by General Electric Co., Bell Laboratories, the Idaho National Engineering Lab, and Motorola. He has consulted for the J. A. Woollam Co., in Lincoln NE and other companies since 2001. He received the BS degree from the University of Missouri in 1960 and the Ph.D. degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 1971.  He has written numerous journal articles in the reviewed technical literature, is the author of four books, and the editor of two books.  He has been a member of AVS since 1972 and is currently an Emeritis Fellow. He was active in the Applied Surfice Science Division, serving as Chairman twice, and in the Ohio and Arizona Chapters. He served extensively as a Short Course Instructor for AVS from 1978 until 2005, and in the Education Committee as the Monograph Editor.