So I get that infrared light is not visible to the human eye without some sort of device to assist in helping you see it, but I was just wondering how that plays into things like lasers. I know you can make an infrared laser, but because infrared is outside of the scope of human visual perception, would an infrared laser still do damage to someone's eye if it were powerful enough? Would it have to be more powerful than a laser of a visual light?

What about black balloons and match heads? I've seen a lot of people on youtube build powerful 1W and above blue / green / red lasers, but would an infrared laser be able to do the same thing to these objects that a regular laser did? How powerful would an infrared laser need to be in order to pop balloons?


Infrared lasers are much more dangerous to the human eye compared to a visible laser of the same power, because infrared lasers do not trigger a blink reflex, which means the laser has much more time to damage your retina.

Your other questions can be answered by reading about the many differing ways that visible and infrared light interact with matter via absorption, reflection, refraction, and scattering. Since lasers are simply coherent light sources, the comparative ability of infrared lasers to do things like pop balloons and light match heads on fire depends on how infrared light interacts with particular materials as compared to visible light, which is a complex topic that is too broad for this answer.

The Wikipedia article about the electromagnetic spectrum is a decent place to start your research.

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    $\begingroup$ And more dangerous that UV laser which also don't trigger the blink reflex because UV burns the cornea which can be replaced, but IR burns the retina which can not. $\endgroup$ – dmckee --- ex-moderator kitten Jun 10 '15 at 21:20

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