Ultrafast laser induced microexplosions: explosive dynamics and sub-micrometer structures

Presentation Date: 

Monday, January 26, 1998


Photonics West 1998 (San Jose, CA)
Tightly focused femtosecond laser pulses can be nonlinearly absorbed inside transparent materials, creating a highly excited electron – ion plasma. These conditions exist only in a small volume at the laser focus. This tight confinement and extreme conditions lead to an explosive expansion — a microexplosion. In solid materials, a microexplosion can result in permanent structural changes. We find that the damage produced by femtosecond pulses in this way is surprisingly small, with only a 200-nm diameter. Material left at the center of the microexplosion is either amorphous and less dense or entirely absent. The threshold for breakdown and structural change is nearly independent of material. Time-resolved measurements of microexplosions in water allow us to observe the dynamics of the explosive expansion. The structural changes in solids resulting from microexplosions allow for three-dimensional data storage and internal microstructuring of transparent materials