Abstract

Optical breakdown by femtosecond and nanosecond laser pulses in transparent dielectrics produces an ionized region of dense plasma confined within the bulk of the material. This ionized region is responsible for broadband radiation that accompanies the breakdown process. Spectroscopic measurements of the accompanying light have been used to show that, depending on the laser parameters, the spectra may originate from plasma-induced second-harmonic generation, supercontinuum generation, or thermal emission by the plasma. By monitoring the emission from the ionized region, one can ascertain the predominant breakdown mechanism and the morphology of the damage region.

© 2005 Optical Society of America

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