This paper discusses the behavior of tantalum foil when it is heated by the radiation of a cw CO2 laser. It is shown that substantial changes in the properties of tantalum foil - increased absorptivity (by an order of magnitude) and increased microhardness - are associated with the fact that oxygen is dissolved in it. It is also shown that the heating kinetics are not monotonic and that oscillations of an interference nature are associated with growth of the oxide film. The appearance of periodic structures is detected on the surface of the samples after they are heated. The causes of the detected effects are discussed. © 2005 Optical Society of America

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