Laser-Material Interactions: a Study of Laser Energy Coupling with Solids.
This study of laser-light interactions with solid materials ranges from low-temperature heating to explosive, plasma-forming reactions. Contained are four works concerning laser-energy coupling: laser (i) heating and (ii) melting monitored using a mirage effect technique, (iii) the mechanical stress-power generated during high-powered laser ablation, and (iv) plasma-shielding. First, a photothermal deflection (PTD) technique is presented for monitoring heat transfer during modulated laser heating of opaque solids that have not undergone phase-change. Of main interest is the physical significance of the shape, magnitude, and phase for the temporal profile of the deflection signal. Considered are the effects that thermophysical properties, boundary conditions, and geometry of the target and optical probe-beam have on the deflection response. PTD is shown to monitor spatial and temporal changes in heat flux leaving the surface due to changes in laser energy coupling. The PTD technique is then extended to detect phase -change at the surface of a solid target. Experimental data shows the onset of melt for indium and tin targets. The conditions for which melt can be detected by PTD is analyzed in terms of geometry, incident power and pulse length, and thermophysical properties of the target and surroundings. Next, monitoring high-powered laser ablation of materials with stress-power is introduced. The motivation for considering stress-power is given, followed by a theoretical discussion of stress-power and how it is determined experimentally. Experiments are presented for the ablation of aluminum targets as a function of energy and intensity. The stress-power response is analyzed for its physical significance. Lastly, the influence of plasma-shielding during high-powered pulsed laser-material interactions is considered. Crater size, emission, and stress-power are measured to determine the role that the gas medium and laser pulse length have on plasma shielding. By using all three techniques, plasma -shielding is established to occur in pico-second time periods with copper targets. Possible mechanisms are explored and the existence of fast photo-electrons is postulated to initiate shielding. A model using fast electrons agrees qualitatively with the experimental results.
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- Engineering: Mechanical; Physics: Fluid and Plasma; Applied Mechanics