, Volume 86, Issue 4, pp 605-614
Date: 19 Dec 2006

Spatially, temporally, and spectrally resolved measurement of laser-induced plasma in air

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Images and emission spectra of sparks produced by laser-induced breakdown in air were investigated with a high degree of spatial and temporal resolution. The laser-induced breakdown was generated by focusing a 532-nm nanosecond pulse from a Q-switched Nd:YAG laser. The data were collected using a framing intensified charged coupled device (CCD) camera and a multi-fiber Cassegrain optics system coupled to an intensified CCD spectrometer. The results provided information about the different stages of laser-induced breakdown. The plasma shape and emission spectrum were very reproducible. Different ionization levels in the plasma kernels, which were observed using the high spatial resolution of the multi-fiber Cassegrain optics system, occurred during the plasma formation and cooling and at different locations within the plasma. This was due mainly to the thickness of the plasma relative to the laser wavelength, which created different ionization levels and energy absorption rates throughout. These observations were correlated with the plasma visualizations obtained with the framing ICCD camera. The plasma emission analysis permitted us to study the temperature evolution along the plasma during the laser-induced breakdown process. The analysis demonstrated the validity of a laser-supported wave model during the first stages of laser-induced breakdown and illustrated the weak dependence of the plasma temperature on the input energy.


52.50.Jm; 52.70.-m; 51.50.+v