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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Laser-driven formation of a high-pressure phase in amorphous silica

  • Author(s): Salleo, Alberto;
  • Taylor, Seth T.;
  • Martin, Michael C.;
  • Panero, Wendy R.;
  • Jeanloz, Raymond;
  • Genin, Francois Y.;
  • Sands, Timothy
  • et al.

A combination of electron diffraction and infrared reflectance measurements shows that synthetic silica transforms partially into stishovite under high-intensity (GW/cm2) laser irradiation, probably by the formation of a dense ionized plasma above the silica surface. During the transformation the silicon coordination changes from four-fold to six-fold and the silicon-oxygen bond changes from mostly covalent to mostly ionic, such that optical properties of the transformed material differ significantly from those of the original glass. This phase transformation offers one suitable mechanism by which laser-induced damage grows catastrophically once initiated, thereby dramatically shortening the service lifetime of optics used for high-power photonics applications such as inertial confinement fusion.

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