Mechanisms of femtosecond laser ablation of dielectrics revealed by double pump-probe experiment

Abstract : We study experimentally the electronic excitation mechanisms involved in the breakdown and ablation of wide band gap dielectrics. A femtosecond pump-probe interferometry technique, with 100 fs temporal resolution, allows measuring the modification of refractive index induced by ultra-short intense laser pulses. To get more information in the complex process of excitation and relaxation mechanisms involved during and after the interaction, we use a sequence of two excitation pulses: a first short pulse at 400 nm excites a controlled density of carriers, and a second one at 800 nm with variable pulse duration, from 50 fs to 10 ps, reaches an excited solid. In Al2O3, we show that the total density of carriers never exceeds the sum of the densities excited by the two pulses sent independently. This means that the second pulse deposits further energy in the material by heating the previously excited carriers, and that no electronic multiplication occurs. On the other hand, in SiO2, it is possible, under specific conditions, to observe an increase of carrier density due to impact ionization. All these results demonstrate that the avalanche process, which is often invoked in the laser breakdown literature, does not play a dominant role in optical breakdown induced by short pulses.
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Submitted on : Thursday, September 25, 2014 - 4:46:41 PM
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Alexandros Mouskeftaras, Stéphane Guizard, N. Fedorov, S. Klimentov. Mechanisms of femtosecond laser ablation of dielectrics revealed by double pump-probe experiment. Applied physics. A, Materials science & processing, Springer Verlag, 2013, 110, pp.709-715. ⟨10.1007/s00339-012-7217-7⟩. ⟨hal-01068505⟩

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