Abstract

We report on a theoretical and experimental study of the temporal and spatial dynamics of plasmas produced in liquids by single Nd: YAG laser pulses of nanosecond duration. This study was motivated by the increasing attention paid to the phenomenon of optical breakdown and to its related effects on tissues and media in connection with microsurgical techniques developed for ophthalmology and urology. Streak camera recordings of the emission from laser-induced plasmas were taken in distilled and tap water in controlled irradiation conditions. From streak recordings, plasma starting times as a function of the axial distance from focus, the overall length of the plasma column, plasma lifetimes, and plasma absorption were derived and analyzed. In this first paper we analyze the curves of plasma starting time, as a function of the irradiation parameters and of the properties of the medium. We show that a model obtained by upgrading the theory of the moving breakdown allows accurate interpretation of the experimental observations.

© 1988 Optical Society of America

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