Abstract

We analyze statistical fluctuations in the pulse-to-pulse spatial fluence distribution of a highly multimode F2 laser beam and the influence that coherence effects have on the attainable smoothness of an ablated surface. The magnitude of fluctuations is predicted to be a few percent, with associated roughness increasing as m12, where m is the number of ablation pulses. By use of a white-light optical interferometer, measurements have been made of roughness induced on N-BK7 glass surfaces ablated with a 157-nm laser, and reasonable agreement with predictions based on this roughening mechanism has been found.

© 2005 Optical Society of America

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