Safety Analysis for Laser-Based Optical Wireless Communications: A Tutorial

Mohammad Dehghani Soltani, Elham Sarbazi, Nikolaos Bamiedakis, Priyanka de Souza, Hossein Kazemi, Jaafar M.H. Elmirghani, Ian H. White, Richard V. Penty, Harald Haas, Majid Safari

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (SciVal)


Light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation (laser) sources has many advantages for use in high-data-rate optical wireless communications (OWCs). In particular, the low-cost and high-bandwidth properties of laser sources, such as vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers (VCSELs), make them attractive for future indoor OWCs. In order to be integrated into future indoor networks, such lasers should conform to eye safety regulations determined by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) standards for laser safety. In this article, we provide a detailed study of beam propagation to evaluate the received power of various laser sources, based on which and the maximum permissible exposure (MPE) defined by the IEC 60825-1:2014 Standard, we establish a comprehensive framework for eye safety analyses. This framework allows us to calculate the maximum allowable transmit power, which is crucial in the design of a reliable and safe laser-based wireless communication system. Initially, we consider a single-mode Gaussian beam and calculate the maximum permissible transmit power. Subsequently, we generalize this approach for higher mode beams. It is shown that the <inline-formula> <tex-math notation="LaTeX">$M$</tex-math> </inline-formula>-squared-based approach for analysis of multimode lasers ensures the IEC eye safety limits; however, in some scenarios, it can be too conservative compared to the precise beam decomposition method. Laser safety analyses with consideration of optical elements, such as lens and diffuser, as well as for the VCSEL array, have been also presented. Skin safety, as another significant factor of laser safety, has also been investigated in this article. We have studied the impacts of various parameters, such as wavelength, exposure duration, and the divergence angle of laser sources on the safety analysis by presenting insightful results.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1045-1072
Number of pages28
JournalProceedings of the IEEE
Issue number8
Early online date22 Jun 2022
Publication statusPublished - 8 Aug 2022


  • Eye safety; Gaussian beam; Hermite-Gaussian
  • Laguerre-Gaussian and optical wireless communication (OWC)
  • laser source; maximum permissible exposure (MPE)
  • skin safety
  • vertical-cavity surface-emitting laser (VCSEL)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Computer Science
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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