Laser desorption/abiation describes a process whereby an intense, pulsed laser beam interacts with a solid surface leading to the ejection of atoms, molecules, ions, clusters and macroscopic particles.1,2 Electromagnetic energy is converted to electronic, thermal, chemical and mechanical energy. The process is extremely complex since different mechanisms operate at different values of laser wavelength, pulse duration and intensity. In general, the term laser desorption is used when particle emission occurs with no visible microscopic alteration of the surface composition or structure. In contrast, laser ablation is a much more energetic phenomenon accompanied by high temperatures, gas dynamic effects, plasma formation and surface cratering. In practice, these two processes are not completely distinct, but reflect a continuum of physical effects indexed to the laser power density and various material properties.
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