The explosive vaporization of individual water droplets (5 μm to 25 μm radius) by a 10.6-μm laser pulse has been observed with a high speed schlieren photography system. The hot vapor and the shock wave produced by the explosive vaporization can be clearly seen in the schlieren photographs. The expansion rate of the heated air mass has been measured. Factors affecting the shape of the volume of heated air are discussed, and the energy balance of the process is considered.
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