The Air Force Research Lab has developed a configurable, two-dimensional, thermal model to predict laser-tissue interactions, and to aid in predictive studies for safe exposure limits. The model employs a finite-difference, time-dependent method to solve the two-dimensional cylindrical heat equation (radial and axial) in a biological system construct. Tissues are represented as multi-layer structures, with optical and thermal properties defined for each layer, are homogeneous throughout the layer. Multiple methods for computing the source term for the heat equation have been implemented,
including simple linear absorption definitions and full beam propagation through finite-difference methods.
The model predicts the occurrence of thermal damage sustained by the tissue, and can also determine damage thresholds for total optical power delivered to the tissue. Currently, the surface boundary conditions incorporate energy loss through free convection, surface radiation, and evaporative cooling. Implementing these boundary conditions is critical for correctly calculating the surface temperature of the tissue, and, therefore, damage thresholds. We present an analysis of the interplay between surface boundary conditions, ambient conditions, and blood perfusion within tissues.