Spectral emission from optical breakdown in the bulk of a transparent dielectric contains information about the nature of the breakdown medium. We have made time resolved measurements of the breakdown induced emission caused by nanosecond and femtosecond infrared laser pulses. We previously demonstrated that the emission due to ns pulses is blackbody in nature allowing determination of the fireball temperature and pressure during and after the damage event. The emission due to femtosecond pulse breakdown is not blackbody in nature; two different spectral distributions being noted. In one case, the peak spectral distribution occurs at the second harmonic of the incident radiation, in the other the distribution is broader and flatter and presumably due to continuum generation. The differences between ns and fs breakdown emission can be explained by the differing breakdown region geometries for the two pulse durations. The possibility to use spectral emission as a diagnostic of the emission region morphology will be discussed.
The local structure of KH2PO4 crystals (so-called KDP) at laser-induced damage sites created by irradiation with ~3-ns, 355-nm laser pulses is studied by a combination of Raman scattering and photoluminescence spectroscopies. We compare spectra from pristine material, surface and bulk laser-induced damage sites, as well as from KPO3 references. Results show that irradiation with fluences above the laser-induced breakdown threshold leads to stoichiometric changes at surface damage sites but not at bulk damage sites. New spectroscopic features are attributed to dehydration products. For the laser irradiation conditions used in this study, the decomposed near-surface layer absorbs photons at ~3.4 eV (364 nm). These results may help explain the recently reported observation that surface laser damage sites in KDP crystals tend to grow with subsequent exposure to high-power laser pulses, while bulk damage sites do not.