Abstract

An analysis is given of how nonuniformities in the laser beam intensity translate into variations on the induced temperature distribution on an irradiated sample. The study involves materials with different thermal conductivities. By use of a reshaped irradiating beam obtained with a multifaceted integrating mirror, a three-dimensional numerical calculation allows us to establish both surface and in-depth temperature distributions. The results show that in the case of materials such as glass (i.e., with low thermal conductivity) large thermal gradients occur both on the surface and in depth during irradiation. However, the lateral heat flow is high enough to strongly reduce the surface gradients as soon as the laser irradiation ends. Conversely, in good thermal conductors such as nickel, the laser intensity nonuniformities induce a thermal peaking of the surface with lateral thermal gradients that are by no means negligible. Experimental evidence during laser glass polishing that confirms the numerical assessments are also provided.

© 1999 Optical Society of America

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