Time-resolved measurements of picosecond optical breakdown
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- Zysset, B., Fujimoto, J.G. & Deutsch, T.F. Appl. Phys. B (1989) 48: 139. doi:10.1007/BF00692139
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Picosecond optical breakdown was investigated in order to assess its potential for performing highly localized incisions for laser surgery. Measurements of breakdown were performed using single 40-ps Nd: YAG laser pulses in distilled water. Novel optical pump-probe techniques were developed to characterize the transient spatial and temporal dynamics of the plasma, shock wave, and cavitation phenomena which are associated with the breakdown. The maximum cavity radius and the shock wave zone are shown to scale as the cube root of the pump pulse energy over almost three orders of magnitude. For pulse energies close to the threshold energy of 8 μJ, the shock range was ∼100–200 μm and the cavity radius was 140 μm. Complementary experiments were performed with 10-ns pulse durations. Since picosecond pulses have high peak intensities with low pulse energies, a significant enhancement in localizability may be achieved. The implications for ophthalmic microsurgery are discussed.