Laser propagation and energy absorption by an argon spark
The laser propagation and energy absorption of an argon spark induced by a laser at different pressures is investigated. 8 ns pulses from a frequency-doubled Q-switched Nd:YAG laser are used to create the spark. The pressure of the argon is varied from 1 atm to 10 Torr. Significant energy absorption by the plasma is observed at high pressures (>100 Torr) while there is negligible absorption when the pressure is lower than 50 Torr. The plasma kernel showed distinct behavior with respect to laser energy. At a laser energy well above the breakdown threshold, the spark moved only in the backward direction and the forward component was absent indicating the strong absorption of the laser by the spark front. A spiky behavior is observed in the transmitted temporal profiles of the laser at higher energies and at high pressures and can be due to the formation of a self-regulating regime. (C) 2003 American Institute of Physics.