Laser-induced incandescence (LII) and laser elastic-scattering measurements have been obtained with subnanosecond time resolution from a propane diffusion flame. Results show that the peak and time-integrated values of the LII signal increase with increasing laser fluence to maxima at the time of the onset of significant vaporization, beyond which they both decrease rapidly with further increases in fluence. This latter behavior for the time-integrated value is known to be characteristic for a laser beam with a rectangular spatial profile and is attributed to soot mass loss from vaporization. However, there is no apparent explanation for the corresponding large decrease in the peak value. Analysis shows that the peak value occurs at the time in the laser pulse when the time-integrated fluence reaches approximately 0.2 J/cm2 and that the magnitude of the peak value is strongly dependent on the rate of energy deposition. One possible explanation for this behavior is that, at high laser fluences, a cascade ionization phenomenon leads to the formation of an absorptive plasma that strongly perturbs the LII process.
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