Care and Cleaning of Optics
Proper care and cleaning of optical components will assure optimum performance and maximum lifetime. Contaminants on an optical surface increase scatter off the surface and absorb laser energy, creating hot spots that eventually lead to coating failure. Cleaning of any precision optic risks damaging the surface, so optics should only be cleaned when necessary. The need for cleaning can be minimized by returning optics to their case or covering the optic and mount with a protective bag when not in use.
Dust on optics can be very tightly bound by static electricity. Blowing removes some dirt; the remainder can be collected by the surface tension of a wet alcohol swab.
Lenses and mirrors may be cleaned by wiping the optic with acetone and a lens tissue by hand. Smaller optics, including lenses, may be cleaned with a brush. Delicate optics with soft coatings such as bare metallic mirror coatings are most safely cleaned by immersion.
Cleaning Heavy Contamination
Fingerprints, oil, or water spots should be cleaned immediately. Skin acids attack coatings and glass and can leave permanent stains. Cleaning with solvents alone tends to redistribute grime. These contaminants must be lifted from an optical surface with soap or other wetting agent, then rinsed in water. Finally the water should be removed with alcohol.
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