Air plasmas ignited at planar solid surfaces by laser pusles of the highest intensities that can be propagated in air (to 4 × 1010 W/cm2) and with a pulse duration that is short compared with the radial pressure relaxation time of the plasma were studied. Measurements of pressure in the target, impulse generation, and plasma expansion speed were compared to analytic theories and numerical simulations. Previous work of this type has been done only with relatively low intensities and/or spot diameters so small that 1-D interaction was not achieved.

© 1984 Optical Society of America

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