This paper analyzes the sequence of processes that occur in a solid when an ultrashort laser pulse (USP) acts on it. A physical model is proposed for a consistent description of the processes that ultimately cause the destruction of the material accompanying a brief light exposure. This model is used to obtain simple estimates that indicate the possibility that a number of specific processes occur. As a result of this analysis, a new mechanism is proposed for the laser destruction of semiconductors and insulating media under the action of USPs. © 2004 Optical Society of America

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