2 September 2015 Contamination and UV lasers: lessons learned
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Laser induced damage to optical elements has been a subject of significant research, development, and improvement, since the first lasers were built over the last 50 years. Better materials, with less absorption, impurities, and defects are available, as well as surface coatings with higher laser damage resistance. However, the presence of contamination (particles, surface deposition films, or airborne) can reduce the threshold for damage by several orders of magnitude. A brief review of the anticipated laser energy levels for damage free operation is presented as a lead into the problems associated with contamination for ultraviolet (UV) laser systems. As UV lasers become more common in applications especially in areas such as lithography, these problems have limited reliability and added to costs. This has been characterized as Airborne Molecular Contamination (AMC) in many published reports. Normal engineering guidelines such as screening materials within the optical compartment for low outgassing levels is the first step. The use of the NASA outgassing database (or similar test methods) with low Total Mass Loss (TML) and Condensed Collected Volatiles Collected Mass (CVCM) is a good baseline. Energetic UV photons are capable of chemical bond scission and interaction with surface contaminant or airborne materials results in deposition of obscuring film laser footprints that continue to degrade laser system performance. Laser systems with average powers less than 5 mW have been shown to exhibit aggressive degradation. Lessons learned over the past 15 years with UV laser contamination and steps to reduce risk will be presented.
© (2015) COPYRIGHT Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.
John G. Daly, John G. Daly, } "Contamination and UV lasers: lessons learned", Proc. SPIE 9573, Optomechanical Engineering 2015, 95730C (2 September 2015); doi: 10.1117/12.2185291; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2185291


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