Laser safety assessments supported by analyses of reflections from metallic targets irradiated by high-power laser light
When using kilowatt-class lasers in outdoor environments, ensuring laser safety turns out to be a complex issue due to the large safety areas that must be respected. For the special cases of collimated or focused laser radiation reflected from ideally flat but naturally rough metallic surfaces, the classical laser hazard analysis is deemed insufficient. In order to investigate the corresponding hazard areas for the aforementioned cases, we performed experiments on laser-matter interactions. Using high-power laser radiation, we studied the spatial and temporal reflection characteristics from four different metallic samples. For the evaluation of total reflection characteristics, we performed curve-fitting methods comprising Gaussian-like specular components, diffuse scattering components according to the ABg-scatter model and Lambertian components. For the investigation of occurring caustics, we developed a dedicated model in order to assess the divergence of the contained structures as a function of distance. Our evaluations have shown that the majority of the reflected power is scattered and based on these findings, that resulting nominal optical hazard distance values, even under worst-case assumptions, are significantly smaller than those of the non-reflected laser beam.