ISO/TR 20811:2017 describes the setup, test procedure and analysis of measured data for investigation of laser-induced molecular contamination (LIMC) for space and vacuum applications.
LIMC is the formation of depositions on optical surfaces due to interaction of intense light radiation with outgassing molecules especially from organic materials. It is a phenomenon of molecular contamination and it is distinguished from particle contamination, which can occur during manufacturing, assembly, integration or test of the optical components.
Formation of laser-induced depositions can lead to deterioration of the performance of an optical system. Phase distortion, scattering and absorption can be increased by LIMC. LIMC is of particular relevance, if a laser system is operated in vacuum at short wavelength and short pulse duration. In such a case, even small partial pressure of contamination material in the range of 10−5 hPa could have strong negative impact on optical performance. It was also shown that the laser-induced damage threshold could be reduced by a factor of 10 and more if laser-induced depositions are involved.
Laser-induced molecular contamination and laser-induced damage are both phenomena, for which the interaction of laser radiation with optical surfaces plays a major role, in case of LIMC with additional molecular contamination. Therefore, ISO/TR 20811:2017 is treated in relation to ISO 21254 (all parts) which specifies the test methods for the determination of laser-induced damage thresholds.
This method was derived to evaluate qualitatively, whether the material under investigation causes deposits on optical surfaces in a low-pressure environment in the presence of high-energy nanosecond pulsed laser irradiation at a wavelength of 355 nm. Due to the nature of photochemical surface reactions, this result cannot be directly transferred to scenarios where the properties of the irradiation are altered (especially wavelength, repetition rate, pulse duration, etc.). Due to the non-linear growth of the laser-induced contamination and its detection methods, this technique does not provide quantitative means to evaluate the deposit and, therefore, it should be seen as a means to compare materials relatively with respect to their laser-induced contamination behaviour.
Furthermore, it is out of the scope of this method to select representative quantities of contamination materials - representative with respect to the material partial pressure present in the vicinity of the optical surface in a real laser system. This is carefully derived with other methods and is a mandatory parameter to be fixed before applying this method.