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Product Code: ILSC2009_102

Atmospheric Scintillation Considerations for Outdoor Laser Safety Evaluation -- A Statistical Approach for Estimating the Effect of Atmospheric Scintillation on Optical Gain
Authors:
Paul Sorensen, Northrop Grumman; Rolling Meadows IL USA
Presented at ILSC 2009

Mathematical models are available to characterize the behavior of atmospheric scintillation, although with sparse treatment in the application to laser safety. Existing laser safety standards either lack specific applications, or offer only a partial, although worst-case approach. Worst-case assumptions are common, and even encouraged, in safety evaluations. However, the goal of any safety evaluation should consider a balance between operational constraints and safety; inadequate or overly restrictive requirements should be avoided.
This paper offers a statistical treatment of atmospheric scintillation, while maintaining an upper limit on operational constraints. The model considers a defensible combination of an accepted scintillation probability distribution, temporal function, and the application of statistical confidence limits for the determination of worst-case optical gain. The resulting approach demonstrates that time-averaged optical gain in an atmospheric scintillation environment is negligible, especially for CW and repetitively-pulsed exposures.

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