Transient reflectivity and transmission changes during plasma formation and ablation in fused silica induced by femtosecond laser pulses
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- Puerto, D., Gawelda, W., Siegel, J. et al. Appl. Phys. A (2008) 92: 803. doi:10.1007/s00339-008-4586-z
We have studied the plasma formation and ablation dynamics in fused silica upon irradiation with a single 120 fs laser pulse at 800 nm by using fs-resolved pump-probe microscope. It allows recording images of the laser-excited surface at different time delays after the arrival of the pump pulse. This way, we can extract both the temporal evolution of the surface reflectivity and transmission, at 400 nm, for different spatial positions in the spots (and thus for different local fluences) from single series of images. At fluences well above the visible ablation threshold, a fast and large increase of the reflectivity is induced by the formation of a dense free-electron plasma. The maximum reflectivity value is reached within ≈1.5 ps, while the normalized transmission decreases within ≈400 fs. The subsequent temporal evolution of both transient reflectivity and transmission are consistent with the occurrence of surface ablation. In addition, the time-resolved images reveal the existence of a free-electron plasma distribution surrounding the visible ablation crater and thus formed at local fluences below the ablation threshold. The lifetime of this sub-ablation plasma is ≈50 ps, and its maximum electron density amounts to 5.5×1022 cm−3.