This paper describes diagnostics experiments of pulsed excimer laser induced plasma. During excimer laser heating, the intense radiation flux from the laser is transformed to the target material and raises the temperature of the target surface rapidly. Melting and evaporation can occur, and the evaporated vapor can be ionized to form a plasma plume. Under rapid heating by a short laser pulse, the melted material can be superheated, and undergoes a phase explosion that turns the melt into a mixture of liquid and vapor. A number of experiments are carried out to investigate the laser-ablated plume. The velocity of the laser-evaporated plasma plume, absorption and scattering of the laser energy by the plasma, the threshold laser fluence for phase explosion, the evaporation pressure at the target surface, and the ablation rate are determined. Experiments are performed in a laser fluence range between 2.5 J/cm2 and 10 J/cm2 (between 100 MW/cm2 and 400 MW/cm2) on nickel specimens. Results of these studies reveal phase change mechanisms and the kinetics at the evaporating surface during excimer laser interaction with the Ni target.