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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Optic cavitation with CW lasers: A review

  • Author(s): Padilla-Martinez, JP
  • Berrospe-Rodriguez, C
  • Aguilar, G
  • Ramirez-San-Juan, JC
  • Ramos-Garcia, R
  • et al.

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© 2014 AIP Publishing LLC. The most common method to generate optic cavitation involves the focusing of short-pulsed lasers in a transparent liquid media. In this work, we review a novel method of optic cavitation that uses low power CW lasers incident in highly absorbing liquids. This novel method of cavitation is called thermocavitation. Light absorbed heats up the liquid beyond its boiling temperature (spinodal limit) in a time span of microseconds to milliseconds (depending on the optical intensity). Once the liquid is heated up to its spinodal limit (~300°C for pure water), the superheated water becomes unstable to random density fluctuations and an explosive phase transition to vapor takes place producing a fast-expanding vapor bubble. Eventually, the bubble collapses emitting a strong shock-wave. The bubble is always attached to the surface taking a semi-spherical shape, in contrast to that produced by pulsed lasers in transparent liquids, where the bubble is produced at the focal point. Using high speed video (105frames/s), we study the bubble's dynamic behavior. Finally, we show that heat diffusion determines the water superheated volume and, therefore, the amplitude of the shock wave. A full experimental characterization of thermocavitation is described.

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