Laser Science Projects
Here you will find a glossary of some of the most commonly used terms in laser light shows. You can click on the quick links below to go to a subject area.
Air-cooled laser: A laser using fans to force air over the laser tube and through the power supply. Air-cooled lasers have the benefit of needing no water supply, although the fan noise can sometimes be a disadvantage. Usually only small and medium power lasers are air-cooled. Very small lasers, typically helium-neon, need no fans. Although technically they are "air cooled" via convection, the term is usually applied only to fan-forced cooling.
Argon laser: A laser filled with argon gas. It gives off green and blue light. The strongest lines are at 514 nm (green) and 488 nm (blue). Argons range from small 15 milliwatt 110 volt air-cooled models to large 50 watt 440 volt water-cooled systems. Argon lasers are the most common type of light show lasers since they provide unable brightness at a reasonable cost.
Chiller: A unit that recirculates a small volume of refrigerated water through a laser for closed-loop cooling. It includes a compressor and thus can perform more cooling than a recirculator/heat exchanger. [See Also: Recirculator]
Dichroic filters and mirrors: A piece of glass with an optical thin-film coating that transmits certain colours (wavelengths), and reflects the remaining colours. Dichroic filters are used to combine or eliminate specific colours as needed in a laser projector. Dichroic mirrors are used to maximise the amount of light reflected from a laser of a particular wavelength. Dichroics should be handled with care to prevent damage to the coating. [See Also: Colour box]
grating; A material, usually flexible plastic,
containing microscopic lines (gratings) that break up
light passing through it. They are used with lasers to
create special beam or graphic effects. Shining a laser
image through diffraction gratings produce multiple
copies of the original image. The most common grating
produces a grid image. Other types of diffraction
gratings produce a linear, circular, or abstract
Diode laser: A
semiconductor similar to an LED (light-emitting diode)
but which produces coherent light. Diode lasers are small
and efficient, which has led to their use in compact disc
players and pen-type laser pointers.
Fibre optic cable: Flexible glass or plastic strands made into a cable, used to carry light from one place to another. There are two main types; Step index and Graded index fibre. Within these two main types there are two further subgroups:
mirror: A piece of glass with an exposed broadband
reflective optical coating. In a conventional
back-surface mirror, the reflective coating is protected
with a heavy paint-like substance; reflections are seen
through the glass. In a front-surface mirror, light does
not have to travel through the glass to reach the
Heat exchanger: A cooling unit that recirculates a small volume of water in a closed-loop; sometimes used with water-cooled lasers. Hot water from the laser is cooled by water-to-water or water-to-air heat transfer. There is no active refrigeration, as in a chiller. [See Also: Recirculator]
(HeNe): A laser filled with a helium/neon gas
mixture. Most produce red-orange light having a
wavelength of 633 nanometers. HeNe's are low powered, in
the 0.5 to 50 milliwatt range. Most run on 110 volts,
come with built-in power supplies, and need no special
Krypton laser: A
laser filled primarily with krypton gas. When used with
"all-line" or "white" optics, it
produces red, yellow, green and blue light. A
"red-only" krypton laser uses with specially
tailored optics to output a very strong red line at 647
device which produces a coherent beam of light. The beam
remains parallel for long distances and contains one or
more extremely pure colours.
All of the mirrors above are usually front-surface mirrors.
Mixed gas laser: Many
gas lasers contain mixtures of various gases, such as
helium and neon. In the laser show industry, however,
"mixed gas" usually refers to an argon-krypton
mixture used to get a white-light beam containing red,
green, and blue lines.
Passbank: The transistors (or other devices) inside the exciter (power supply) that are used to regulate the current to the laser head. They are usually mounted on a heatsink that may be air or water cooled. The heatsink is usually called a "cold plate" if it is water cooled.
Power supply: A
device converting readily available power, usually
standard alternating current, into voltages necessary to
energise laser tubes. A power supply is also known as an
exciter. It may also include other functions such as
monitoring the laser's light output or current draw. A
power supply (exciter) is usually closely matched to a
particular type of laser tube.
Recirculator: A pump used to recycle a small volume of water, found in either a chillier or heat exchanger. The term "recirculator" is sometimes erroneously used to mean either of the more specific devices.
A laser where the lasing medium is a solid material
such as a ruby rod. These can be optically pumped by a
flashlamp or diodes. Solid state lasers also include
diode lasers as they use electrically pumped solids to
Umbilical: A group of hoses and/or cables that connects the laser head to the exciter. The umbilical can be a simple power cable, a number of cables and/or hoses held together or a large diameter flexible plastic pipe (like a vacuum cleaner hose) that contains all of the cables/hoses.
laser: A laser using water to cool the laser tube.
Often the laser power supply's electronics are also
water-cooled. A gas laser (the type used in most laser
display applications) is relatively inefficient. For
example, an argon-filled laser producing 10 watts of
light requires around 10,000 watts of electricity. In
such a laser, water is used to carry off the 9,990 watts
of excess energy as heat.
White-light beam: Broadly,
a laser beam which contains a number of different
wavelengths (colours) so the beam appears white. If the
beam is passed through a prism or diffraction grating, it
is separated into individual laser beams, each of a
single specific wavelength.
Many lasers can produce a number of wavelengths
(colours) simultaneously. A white-light laser is designed
to give a good balance of red, green and blue
wavelengths. Usually the laser is intended for an RGB
laser projector. (Some models also deliberately add
yellow light for specialised 4-colour projectors.) Most
white-light lasers use an argon/krypton gas mixture.
Optics plate: A metal plate drilled and tapped with holes, in a grid configuration for mounting the parts and sub-systems. The optics plate is usually the base on which the projector is built.
Galvo, galvanometer: Refers to the basic galvanometer itself, without an attached mirror mount or mirror.
Scanner: A galvo with an attached mirror. There are often three parts, the galvo, a mirror mount, and a mirror. See scanner for more information on general usage.
Scanner amplifier (scan amp): Usually refers to the scan amp board only. Does not include a power supply or chassis unless this is specifically stated (in sales literature, etc.).
Scanner head (scan head): A pair of scanners in an X-Y mount with mirrors. (Fully enclosed X-Y mounts are usually referred to as heads while an open mount is usually referred to as a `scan stage'. Does not include the scanner amps, although those may be mounted close to the scanner head. Usually does not include any blanking system.
Projector head: Scanner head, plus any special optical effects such as beam switching and lumia, in a finished chassis. Usually used when the laser beam is fed via fibre optic cable to a number of projector heads arranged on a stage or set. Does not include the scanner amps, although those may be mounted inside the projector head. Does not necessarily include a blanking device or system.
Blanking system: The blanking system cannot be assumed to be in either the scanner head nor in the projector head. The blanking system is usually set apart from the scanner head (scanners plus mount). It may also be separated from a fibre-fed projector head, since the beam is often blanked before being launched into the fibre. Therefore, the blanking system should be discussed as a separate subsystem; for example, when specifying number and location of heads.
Laser projector: Laser, scanner head, blanking system, special optical effects, and scanner amps, all in a single chassis. The inclusion of the laser, blanking and scanner-related electronics makes a laser projector more comprehensive than a projector head.
Laser system: A laser projector plus a signal source such as a tape playback unit, computer, or operator console.
Beam table: Optics plate plus special optical effects, usually beam positioning actuators, but also can include lumia and other effects. Does not include the laser. The beam table may also be a sub-system in a complex laser projector.
Beam projector: Beam table plus laser. Usually implies no graphics scanning capability. The beam projector may include a basic X-Y scanning system used to generate scanned beam effects.
Actuator: A device that allows for the positioning of optical elements in a laser beam or for low-speed beam steering or switching applications. Some examples:
Arm: A thin metal piece that is attached to an actuator to hold a mirror (mirror arm) a dichroic filter (dichro arm) or a beamsplitter (splitter arm). Arms are available as a regular arm made of metal or a "low-mass" arm that has holes drilled through it to reduce the weight and provide a slight improvement in speed of movement. Arms that have no optics on them can be used for shuttering or dimming and are called flags.
(acousto-optic modulator): A device used for dimming
and blanking a laser beam. It can also be used for colour
control. In an AOM, a laser beam is shone through an
acousto-optic crystal. By applying an electric signal to
the crystal, the beam's intensity (brightness) can be
distortion: An image distortion caused by projecting
onto a convex surface. For example, a grid projected on
the outside of a dome has outwardly curved edges, where
the centres curve out and the corners pull in.
Single-axis barrel distortion occurs when projecting on
the outside of a cylinder.
Beam splitter: A
device which transmits part of a laser beam and reflects
the other part. Usually, a beam splitter is a piece of
glass with optical coatings; the type of coating
determines the ratio between transmission and reflection.
Beam splitter ratios: The most common ratios in use are 50/50 and T70/R30 beam splitters. The T value refers to the percentage of light transmitted while the R value refers to the percentage of light reflected by the optic. (The T and R designations are not used in a 50/50 splitter.)
technique of turning the laser beam on and off with
precise control (as opposed to chopping). For scanned
graphics, blanking allows images to have disconnected
sections where the beam is hidden.
Chopping: The technique of turning the laser beam on and off at a regular rate (as opposed to blanking). High-speed chopping gives a "dotted line" effect. If used with densely scanned images, chopping creates areas of light and dark which shift as the chopping rate changes. [See Also: Colour modulation]
Colour box: An
informal term for a projector subsystem using three
dichroic filters which pass cyan, magenta or yellow
light. Actuators move the filters into a white-light
beam. This provides a subtractive colour blend, giving
eight possible colours (red, green, blue, yellow,
magenta, cyan, white and "black").
galvanometer: A limited excursion motor whose torque
is directly proportional to the current. When current is
applied, the galvo's shaft rotates through part of a
circle. When current is removed, the shaft returns to the
rest position. Examples include the ammeter in an
automobile or the needle-style VU meter in audio
Flag: An arm that is attached to a galvo or actuator that is used to shutter (turn on or off) a laser beam. If it mounted to a variable position device such as a galvo, the flag can be gradually inserted into the beam to reduce its diameter and apparent brightness.
distortion caused when an image is projected onto a
screen from off-centre. For example, a projector aimed up
at a screen produces a wide image at top and a narrow
image at bottom. (This shape is like that of the
"keystone" at the top of an arch.)
Kinematic mount: A mount designed for holding mirrors, dicros or other optics that features two (or more) adjustments for accurately positioning the beam deflected from the optic. Examples are the popular MM1 type mounts and the end plates that hold the optics on a laser head.
device used to obstruct the laser beam so it is blocked
from undesired areas. The mask is usually placed at the
final output aperture of the laser projector.
Mirror mount: A
tiny machined metal piece used to mount laser scanner
mirrors to the galvanometer scanner shafts. Usually the
mirror is glued to the mount; the mount has a set screw
to hold it to the shaft.
(polychromatic acousto-optic modulator): A device
used to control the colours in a white-light beam, to
produce a final desired colour. A PCAOM is a complex type
of acousto-optic modulator. It can control the intensity
of not one, but a number of wavelengths (colours)
simultaneously using a single crystal.
PCAOM and AOTF: Some people may
incorrectly use the term "AOTF" (acousto-optic
tuneable filter) to refer to PCAOMs. Both devices change
the colour of an input light source. However, an AOTF
controls only one wavelength at a time; that wavelength
is tuneable. A PCAOM controls many wavelengths
simultaneously; those wavelengths are fixed by the
driver. Only PCAOMs are suitable for colour control of
multi-wavelength white-light laser beams.
distortion caused by projecting onto a concave surface.
For example, a grid projected on the inside of a dome has
inwardly curved edges, where the corners stick out and
the centres curve inward. Single-axis pincushion
distortion occurs when projecting on the inside of a
projector: A laser projector whose colour system can
independently control the amount of red, green and blue
light. These three components are combined to produce the
final beam. This technique provides a wide range of
colours. RGB projectors can use different methods,
including scanner colour, AOMs and PCAOMs.
device which moves a beam back and forth. This can
include polygonal faceted scanners, acousto-optic
deflectors, and galvanometers with mirrors.
amplifier (Scan amp): An electronic device which
conditions a signal from a computer or other source, and
makes it compatible with scanners.
blanking and colour: A method of blanking or
colouring laser beams, using scanners. A scanner is set
up using a mirror or small beam-blocking arm (flag)
on its shaft. As the shaft rotates, the beam is reflected
or blocked so it does not reach the scanners.
distortion where one axis is at an angle while the other
is correctly straight. The resulting image is slanted.
For example, horizontal shear causes normal text to look
like italic type.
actuator (or solenoid) used to block the laser's beam.
Usually positioned between the laser and the laser
distance between the laser projector and the projection
surface. Too short a throw means that the scanners may
not be able to cover the entire screen. Too long a throw
means that the beam may diverge too far, or that special
effect graphics such as lumia may be too dim.
X-Y mount: A machined piece of metal which holds the scanners in the correct position relative to each other, so the beam can scan first off the horizontal (X) scanner, then off the vertical (Y) scanner. The mount also serves as a heat sink to carry away heat generated by the scanners' operation. A fully enclosed X-Y mount is known as a scan head while an open frame type is often referred to as a scan stage.
Abstract: Laser-projected images which are usually non-representational (as opposed to graphics). This implies using synthesisers or other techniques which do not afford point-by-point position control of the beam, and usually implies using scanners to create the abstract image. Usually excludes lumia, diffraction gratings, or similar non-scanner (optical) techniques.
Beam effects: Using
the laser's beam as a sculptural element in space (as
opposed to shining it on a screen to create graphics).
The beam can be static or kinetic (dynamic or moving). If
static, it is usually reflected off a series of widely
spaced mirrors to create a "beam sculpture" or
Beam sequence: A beam effect where beams are directed to different mirrors in quick sequence. This gives a Star Wars-type impression of shooting beams bouncing around the performance arena.
Beam sequencer : A hardware device that generates an analogue stairstep voltage. When fed to the X input of a scanning system, the beam steps through the air producing beam sequences in various patterns.
colour mod: Rapidly varying the colour of the laser
beam. In beam effects, colour mod can be used on the
entire beam matrix or can be sequenced in individual
beams. In graphics effects, colour appears to
"chase" through an image.
Cone: A beam
effect where the beam is rapidly scanned to enclose
space. For example, by scanning a circle, the effect
looks like a cone of light emanating from the projector
location. Other shapes can be scanned; for example, a
square produces a pyramid "cone".
Cone maker: A device usually consisting of a high speed motor with a small mirror on an eccentric mount attached to its shaft. When targeted by a static laser beam, the mirror spins the beam in a circle producing a cone of light. [See Also: Cone]
Fan: A beam
effect where the beam is rapidly scanned from
side-to-side, usually through theatrical smoke. If the
scanning is smooth, the audience sees a flat plane of
light (Sometimes called a `sheet scan'). If the beam
scans discrete positions, the audience sees a ribbed fan
of light. The fan can be rotated and translated to
produce a moving fan effect.
Graphics: Laser-projected designs, usually representational (as opposed to abstract) such as logos or drawings. Graphics implies point-by-point control of the beam position, which in turn implies computer control of laser scanners. A computer can generate non-representational designs, but these are normally classed as graphics rather than abstracts.
light-sensitive film which captures and plays back light
wave interference patterns. One of the most striking
results is the true three-dimensional nature of the
recreated holographic image.
Laser light show: A
presentation where laser light is the primary attraction
(as opposed to laser special effects). The four main
elements of a laser light show are: abstracts, graphics,
lumia (optical) and beam effects. These may be present in
Laser special effects: Any use of lasers where the laser is not the primary attraction (as opposed to laser light show). For example, a rock band may use complex laser lighting effects comparable to standalone laser light shows. However, because the band itself is the primary attraction, the lasers are considered supporting special effects.
Laserist: The person who performs a live laser show, especially in a planetarium environment. Can also be used for the person who designs and choreographs a pre-recorded show.
Laserium ®: A registered trademark of Laser Images Inc., referring to their laser light shows. Sometimes used incorrectly as a synonym for any planetarium-based laser light show.
Lumia: A gauze-like laser effect produced by shining a laser beam through distorting material such as rippled glass or plastic. Lumia are often composed of fine parallel lines of light and dark, and they show the characteristic speckle of coherent light. There are many different lumia effects, depending on the type of distorting material.
Module (laser show):
A song-length segment of a laser light show. A module
is the smallest unit of music-plus-lasers which can
artistically stand on its own.
(3D) laser effects: In laser effects, this can refer
to beam effects or multiple scrim techniques. (In laser
graphics, "3D" usually refers to either a 3D
graphics database or to stereoscopic projection systems.)
Anchor points: Additional points placed to help slow the laser beam. Anchor points are usually added at corners and tight curves, to help the scanners accurately follow the desired path. [See Also: Velocity points]
sequence of frames where each frame is slightly
different, giving the illusion of motion.
"Animation" refers to the complete group
including key frames and tweens.
Character animation: An animation where a human, animal or cartoon character is the main focus of interest (performing an action). Usually these are created by hand drawing or digitising a number of sequential frames (occasionally referred to as a sequential frame animation the technical description for the process).
Object animation: An animation where the action is produced by computer manipulation of a frame or 3D object. Object animations can be pre-computed and stored as a series of frames in memory or created by manipulating a single frame in real-time.
Artware: Frames and animations used in creating laser modules and shows. Artware can be created by the end user, but the term usually implies "clip art" sold or traded by a third party. This term is preferred over "clip art". [See Also: Showware]
Blanked points: Those points in a computer-controlled graphic that are turned off by the blanking device so they cannot be seen.
Cel or cell: Refers to a single drawing in a character animation created on paper or acetate. [See Frame]
Co-ordinates: The placement of a point in Cartesian space; used in laser graphics software. A point at (5,10) is located five units to the right of, and ten units above the origin (0,0). [See Also: Point]
Depth cueing: An effect in 3D graphics where lines appearing further from the viewer are dimmed. This helps enhance the 3D illusion for wireframe images such as those used with lasers.
Erase: A special effect used in computer-controlled laser graphics. A design disappears point-by-point, as if being erased. The opposite effect is called write out.
Frame: A sequence of points forming a single, fixed drawing or design. It is analogous to a motion picture frame. The alternative terms "cel" or "cell" are sometimes seen but refer to a single drawing on paper or acetate.
Key frames: Frames containing the start and end points of action in an animated scene. Intermediate positions are shown in the tween ("in-between") frames. In computer animation, key frames are hand drawn and the computer calculates tweens. In hand animation, the key frames are drawn by the primary animator, while tweens may be drawn by an assistant.
Module (computer graphics):
The terms "scene" and "module" express a similar idea: a group of related frames and animations. They differ in that a scene is more of an artistic concept, while a module is more of a technical concept.
smallest object which can be manipulated by laser
graphics software. Usually includes X (horizontal) and Y
(vertical) co-ordinates, and visibility (on or off)
and/or colour. Can also include Z (depth), size, shape
and other attributes.
Point number: The sequence number of a particular point. For example, "point number 1" refers to the first set of co-ordinates in a point output list. [See Also: Point]
frames: The traditional laser frame is a
connect the dots drawing where every point needed to draw
the image is stored as part of the frame.
animation: In a computer graphics system, a frame
sequence which has been hand-drawn, or calculated in a
longer time than it takes to play back the animation.
Images created by constantly scanning from side to
side and up and down -- examples include television and
animation: In a computer graphics system, a frame
sequence which is developed from a source frame in
"real time". The manipulations or calculations
are completed in less time than it takes to draw the
laser-drawn graphic consists of a series of
connect-the-dot points. When all points have been drawn,
the laser must return to the first point, to
"re-trace" the graphic. The line from last
point to first point is the retrace line.
sequence of frames and animations which are lyrically,
thematically or temporally related to each other.
Showware: All or some of the parts used to create a module or show, such as scripts, computer graphics command programs, or taped audio and control signals. Showware can be created by the end user, but the term usually implies sale or trade by a third party. [See Also: Artware]
Three-dimensional (3D) laser graphics: In computer laser graphics, usually refers to either a 3D graphics database or a stereoscopic projection system. Can also be applied to 3D volumetric techniques.
Tweens: Individual frames which are part of an animation. The term comes from "in-between". The complete set of tweens plus key frames is an animation. [See Also: Animation; Key frames]
Vector frames store only the points needed for
the beginning and ends of lines and angle changes within
lines thus they are very compact. Since the scanners need
every point along each line and curve to draw the image,
additional points between the vector points are generated
in real-time by the computer system at playback.
Vector graphics: Images
created by moving from point to point -- examples include
handwriting and computer plotters. Most laser graphics
are vector graphics.
(velocity control points): Additional points placed
to keep the laser beam scan velocity constant during long
excursions. While anchor and velocity points express
similar concepts, there are important differences.
Write out: A special effect used in computer laser graphics. The laser appears to "write out" a design such as a signature. The opposite effect is called erase.
X axis: Refers to horizontal (left-and-right) movement of the laser beam. In the ILDA Image Data Transfer format, negative values are to the left, positive values are to the right. [See Also: Co-ordinates]
Y axis: Refers to vertical (up-and-down) movement of the laser beam. In the ILDA Image Data Transfer format, negative values are down, positive values are up. [See Also: Co-ordinates]
Z axis: Refers to movement in front of or behind the viewing plane. (Used primarily with laser graphics software which uses a three-dimensional database.) In the ILDA Image Data Transfer format, negative values are to the rear (away from the viewer), positive values are to the front. [See Also: Co-ordinates]
Aberration: A defect in a optical system that can degrade or distort the light passing through it. For example, a flaw in a beam telescope lens that may distort the laser beam.
Beamwidth: The width or diameter of the beam. This is important for laserists to know as you don't want a beam that will overfill your scanning mirrors. The scientific definition is the linear width of the beam specified as the region where the beam intensity falls within a predetermined limit.
objective measure of how powerful light is over a
specific area. (Specifically, watts per unit area per
unit solid angle.)
Chromatic aberration: An aberration occurring in lenses resulting from the normal increase in refractive index of all common materials towards the blue end of the spectrum. Essentially the lens focuses the red and blue light in slightly different planes.
laser produces coherent light; conventional light sources
produce incoherent light. Coherent light waves all travel
the same direction (spatial coherence) at the same
frequency and in phase (temporal coherence).
subjective perception of light wavelengths. One of the
attractions of lasers is the intense, pure colours they
produce. This is because they emit specific, narrow
wavelengths of light, which we see as saturated colours.
Scientifically, colour is the perceived wavelength of
objective measure of the amount that a laser beam spreads
as it leaves the laser head.
perceptual effect in laser-drawn graphics when the laser
cannot complete its path before the eye's persistence of
vision sees the image fade. The effect, usually
undesired, is that the image is flickering or pulsating.
Line: Short for "spectral line", referring to a particular wavelength of light in the visible spectrum. [See Also: Wavelength]
subjective measure of how brightness is perceived by the
eye. It depends not only on brightness but on wavelength.
Milliwatt: One thousand milliwatts equal one watt. Small lasers' beam powers are measured in milliwatts. For example, a 50 mW laser is one-twentieth of a watt; a 500 mW laser is one-half watt. [See Also: Watt]
effect caused by the coherence of laser light. Laser
speckle looks like a dense pattern of dark and light
areas, which shimmers as you move your head from side to
objective measure of power; in lasers, usually refers to
the optical output power, or strength, of a laser beam.
Large light show lasers are generally in the 1 to 20 watt
distance from the crest of one wave to the next. In
lasers, wavelength is important because it determines the
perceived colour of the light.
For more detailed scientific terminology, visit the Laser Adventure site
The primary hazard of light show lasers is eye damage. Higher power lasers also have some burn and fire hazards. However, no light show laser can do science-fiction type damage or disintegration. Both equipment and show site must be made safe so beams cannot go into the audience. Usually, governmental regulatory agencies must be notified in writing before lasers can be used. Thus far, the regulations have worked well. There have been no reported injuries in the United States from light show lasers since U.S. federal regulations took effect in 1976.
Audience scanning: When
laser effects, both scanned beams and abstracts are
projected directly onto people in the audience it is
called audience scanning. Audience scanning is inherently
dangerous since laser beams could be projected directly
into a person's eyes causing damage or even blindness.
Static beams such as those from a beam table are never
projected into the audience since they are usually too
Center for Devices and Radiological Health of the Food
and Drug Administration, Department of Health and Human
Services, is the principal federal regulatory agency
covering U.S. laser displays.
Irradiance: A measure of laser energy density used in safety work; usually measured in watts per square centimetre. Technically irradiance is the radiant flux incident per unit area of a surface. Also called radiant flux density.
MPE (Maximum Permissible Exposure): Used in safety calculations, the MPE is the maximum level of laser radiation that a person may be exposed to without adverse biological effects. The international laser safety standard, IEC-825, defines a short exposure as 2.5 mW per square centimetre. Check with the authorities in your jurisdiction to determine the MPE for your area.
CDRH currently requires higher power U.S. lasers to bear
labels reading "Warning: Laser radiation". The
word "radiation" refers merely to the laser's
light. This is not high-energy ionising
"atomic" radiation, which is the more
conventional use of the word .
Restricted zone: The area around a laser projection system that is off limits to members of the public as the laser show does not meet safety guidelines in this area. For example, static beams may be less than three meters above the ground/floor.
RPB: The Radiation Protection Bureau (a division of Health Canada), is the federal government agency which has jurisdiction over laser displays in Canada. Some provinces also have their own regulations and regulatory agencies. A complete list is available from the RPB in Ottawa.
U.S. laser display viewed by the public must follow CDRH
regulations. The regulations cover both laser equipment
and the performance site. Permission to vary from the
regulations is given on a case-by-case basis, in a
document called a "variance".
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