Shock wave emission and cavitation bubble generation by picosecond and nanosecond optical breakdown in water

A. Vogel*, S. Busch, U. Parlitz

*Corresponding author for this work
510 Citations (Scopus)


Shock wave emission and cavitation bubble expansion after optical breakdown in water with Nd:YAG laser pulses of 30-ps and 6-ns duration is investigated for energies between 50 μJ and 10 mJ which are often used for intraocular laser surgery. Time-resolved photography is applied to measure the position of the shock front and the bubble wall as a function of time. The photographs are used to determine the shock front and bubble wall velocity as well as the shock wave pressure as a function of time or position. Calculations of the bubble formation and shock wave emission are perforated using the Gilmore model of cavitation bubble dynamics and the Kirkwood-Bethe hypothesis. The calculations are based on the laser pulse duration, the size of the plasma, and the maximally expanded cavitation bubble, i.e., on easily measurable parameters. They yield the dynamics of the bubble wall, the pressure evolution inside the bubble, and pressure profiles in the surrounding liquid at fixed times after the start of the laser pulse. The results of the calculations agree well with the experimental data. A large percentage of the laser pulse energy (up to 72%) is transformed into the mechanical energy E(S) and E(B) of the shock wave and cavitation bubble, whereby the partitioning between E(S) and E(B) is approximately equal. 65%- 85% of E(S) is dissipated during the first 10 mm of shock wave propagation. The pressure at the plasma rim ranges from 1300 MPa (50 μJ, 30 ps) to 7150 MPa (10 mJ, 6 ns). The calculated initial shock wave duration has values between 20 and 58 ns, the duration measured 10 mm away from the plasma is between 43 and 148 ns. A formation phase of the shock front occurs after the ns pulses, but not after the ps pulses where the shock front exists already 100 ps after the start of the laser pulse. After shock front formation, the pressure decays approximately proportional to r-2, and at pressure values below 100 MPa proportional to r-1.06. The maximum bubble wall velocity ranges from 390 to 2450 m/s. The calculations of bubble and shock wave dynamics can cover a large parameter range and may thus serve as a tool for the optimization of laser parameters in medical laser applications.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of the Acoustical Society of America
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)148-165
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - 07.1996

Research Areas and Centers

  • Academic Focus: Biomedical Engineering


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