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Laser dissipation in air?

  1. Dec 23, 2008 #1
    What equations would I need for calculating this, say if I wanted to know what the power/intensity of an x watt, x wavelength laser would be reduced to after x metres?
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 23, 2008 #2


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    Simplest is just the beam divergence. Unless the laser is perfectly focussed it will have a beam divergence in mRad. A milli-radian is 1 part in 57,000
    Over very long distances you might want to consider atmospheric absorption.
  4. Dec 24, 2008 #3

    Andy Resnick

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    If you know the extinction coefficient 'k' for air (which varies with wavelength, humidity, density, CO2 concentration, etc) the intensity follows Beer's law:

    I = I_0 exp(-kz)
  5. Dec 24, 2008 #4

    Vanadium 50

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    It also matters whether you're talking about a laser pointer or an SDI-sized laser. For the latter, there's also something called "thermal blooming" - the laser heats the air, the air develops a changing index of refraction depending on the distance to the beam, and you've just stuck a lens in front of your laser, dispersing it.
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