The influence of the pulse duration on the mechanical effects following laser-induced breakdown in water was studied at pulse durations between 100 fs and 100 ns. Breakdown was generated by focusing laser pulses into a cuvette containing distilled water. The pulse energy corresponded to 6-times breakdown threshold energy. Plasma formation and shock wave emission were studied photographically. The plasma photographs show a strong influence of self-focusing on the plasma geometry for femtosecond pulses. Streak photographic recording of the shock propagation in the immediate vicinity of the breakdown region allowed the measurement of the near-field shock pressure. At the plasma rim, shock pressures between 3 and 9 GPa were observed for most pulse durations. The shock pressure rapidly decays proportionally to r-(2⋯3) with increasing distance r from the optical axis. At a 6 mm distance of the shock pressure has dropped to (8.5±0.6) MPa for 76 ns and to <0.1 MPa for femtosecond pulses. The radius of the cavitation bubble is reduced from 2.5 mm (76 ns pulses) to less than 50 μm for femtosecond pulses. Mechanical effects such as shock wave emission and cavitation bubble expansion are greatly reduced for shorter laser pulses, because the energy required to produce breakdown decreases with decreasing pulse duration, and because a larger fraction of energy is required to overcome the heat of vaporization with femtosecond pulses.
Research Areas and Centers
- Academic Focus: Biomedical Engineering