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Blackout and Laser Safety Materials
Blackout, Nylon Fabric with
Laser Safety Fabric
Vertical Blackout Blinds
Black Aluminum Foil
Thorlabs offers a complete selection of blackout materials that are designed to control stray or ambient light, which can adversely affect experiments or components within a setup (e.g. photodetectors). These materials are especially beneficial when using high-gain detection equipment, such as in photon counting experiments, since high-gain detectors are easily saturated by room light. In ellipsometry and certain polarimetry techniques, blackout materials may be used to prevent reductions in accuracy caused by ambient light.
We offer blackout fabric, hardboard, posterboard, self-adhesive black flocked paper, aluminum foil, masking tape, and vertical blinds.
Please note that on this page, only the Laser Safety Fabric is laser safety rated. All other items on this page are not intended to be used for laser safety. For more information, please see the Laser Safety tab above.
Laser Safety and Classification
Safe practices and proper usage of safety equipment should be taken into consideration when operating lasers. The eye is susceptible to injury, even from very low levels of laser light. Thorlabs offers a range of laser safety accessories that can be used to reduce the risk of accidents or injuries. Laser emission in the visible and near infrared spectral ranges has the greatest potential for retinal injury, as the cornea and lens are transparent to those wavelengths, and the lens can focus the laser energy onto the retina.
Safe Practices and Light Safety Accessories
Lasers are categorized into different classes according to their ability to cause eye and other damage. The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) is a global organization that prepares and publishes international standards for all electrical, electronic, and related technologies. The IEC document 60825-1 outlines the safety of laser products. A description of each class of laser is given below:
This black, polyurethane-coated nylon fabric provides an easy method for protecting light-sensitive equipment, as the polyurethane coating prevents light from penetrating through the weave of the nylon. Double-layer use is recommended for extremely sensitive applications. Please note that this material is not intended for use as a laser curtain since it is not flame retardant. The fabric has also not been tested for clean room compatibility.
We can cut this material into custom lengths (in yards) that fit your application. Please contact Tech Support for a quote.
Thorlabs' black panels are an essential component of light-tight enclosures. Our TB5 Black Posterboard is 1/16" (1.6 mm) thick and ships in packages of five 20" x 30" (50.8 cm x 76.2 cm) panels. Simply score the panel with a utility knife and bend to form a light-tight corner. We recommend using our 2" wide black masking tape for other joints to eliminate the passage of light through those areas.
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The data was obtained at an 8° AOI. Please note that the curve above shows reflectance of the TB4 hardboard, not the TB5 posterboard.
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Close-Up of TB4
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Enclosure with TB4 Panels
Thorlabs' TB4 Black Hardboard is 3/16" (4.76 mm) thick and ships in packages of three 24" x 24" (61.0 cm x 61.0 cm) panels. Compared to TB5 above, the increased thickness provides enhanced acoustic absorption, while the foam core (pictured to the right) helps it remain lightweight. We recommend using our 2" wide black masking tape for corners and other joints to eliminate the passage of light through those areas. This is the same hardboard used in our preconfigured optical enclosures.
Upon request, we can offer the TB4 hardboard in custom sizes up to 48" x 48" (121.9 cm x 121.9 cm) to customers in North America, or up to 44" x 32" (111.8 cm x 81.3 cm) elsewhere. Please contact Tech Support for a quote.
Flocked paper is a self-adhesive material made of many fine fibers. It has a textured, matte-black surface. When viewed at from low angles, it absorbs virtually 100% of the visible light that strikes it. The fibers will not shed dust or lint, unlike some velvet and felt materials. The approximate compressed thickness of the flocked paper is 0.015" (0.381 mm) with the backing and 0.012" (0.305 mm) without the backing.
Image contrast can suffer due to stray light reaching the focal plane of many applications where the light path travels through a tube or other enclosed area. Applying a flat-black paint to the inside may help, but a textured matte-black surface is a much more effective light trap.
Caution: Do not cut the BFP1 black flocked paper with a laser cutting tool, as the BFP1 burns easily and may catch fire. It is suggested that you use a utility knife or other sharp edged tool to cut the BFP1.
This durable, lightweight foil has a matte black finish to absorb light from any ambient or conventional light source. It can be molded quickly to form blackout covers, dark rooms, laser channels, or other configurations so as to mask light leaks or eliminate unwanted reflections. Secure its position using tape, staples, or adhesives. This black aluminum foil is sold on a roll and measures 1' x 50' (305 mm x 15.2 m).
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High-Performance Black Masking Tape
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Black Masking Tape
Thorlabs offers a standard and high-performance black masking tape, as well as an aluminum foil masking tape. All types of tape can be torn by hand, are easy to remove, and do not leave a residue. The T137-1.0 and T137-2.0 black masking tape can be used for general applications. For applications requiring minimal ambient light transmission, the T743-1.0 or T743-2.0 high-performance black masking tape is recommended. For total blackout requirements or high-power applications, we offer the T205-1.0 or T205-2.0 non-reflective, flame-retardant aluminum tape. This foil tape has been tested to withstand up to 10 seconds of exposure from a 20 W, Ø6 mm, 10.6 µm laser beam.
In the photographs shown above, a collimated LED (Item # M530L2-C2) with approximately 170 mW output power was used to illustrate how the T743-2.0 high-performance tape allows very little light transmission as compared to the T137-2.0 standard black masking tape. The table below gives the measured power and percent transmittance when various wavelengths of light were incident upon each type of tape.
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A laser safety label is attached to the rolls of fabric with 1.0 m and 3.05 m lengths.
Thorlabs' laser safety fabric is designed to withstand high laser energy up to EN 12254: 2010(E) certification with the flexibility to be cut into custom sizes to suit experimental needs. The laser rated material is made of a rubber compound fabric, which is the same material used to make our laser safety curtain panels. The table to the right gives the certifications applicable for certain wavelength regions; to see the complete EN 12254: 2010(E) certification, please click here. The customizable nature of this fabric makes it ideal for creating window covers and building custom enclosures for experiments and optical systems. Please ensure that the cutting tool you are using is sharp in order to reduce frayed edges. A red laser safety label, as seen in the image to the right, is attached to each sheet of 1.0 m and 3.05 m long fabric.
Some material may need to be trimmed off either end of the LPCM10 prior to use. However, a minimum of 10.0 m of usable material is included. Please note that the LPCM10 is shipped in a crate weighing over 60 kg (132 lbs) and requires a forklift for transport. The roll itself is approximately 30 kg (66 lbs); a team lift is recommended.
These blackout blinds are made from a black, rubberized fabric. Designed for applications where light exclusion is required, such as laboratories and dark rooms, they can be used to keep stray light out of photosensitive setups. They are also useful for preventing bright sources from being visible by people outside the lab. The fabric is totally opaque, and the blinds are manually operated by a side chain. They can be attached to the wall or window recess using the two brackets and four screws that are supplied. Please note that the blinds are not intended for use as a laser curtain since the material is not flame retardant. The material has also not been tested for cleanroom compatibility.