Abstract

Combining femtosecond pump–probe techniques with optical microscopy, we have studied laser-induced optical breakdown in optically transparent solids with high temporal and spatial resolution. The threshold of plasma formation has been determined from measurements of the changes of the optical reflectivity associated with the developing plasma. It is shown that plasma generation occurs at the surface. We have observed a remarkable resistance to optical breakdown and material damage in the interaction of femtosecond laser pulses with bulk optical materials.

© 1996 Optical Society of America

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