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Numerical study of femtosecond laser interactions with dielectric materials : application to the definition of damage threshold of optical components

Abstract : With the appearance of new ultra-short laser systems, extremely high laser intensities became accessible thus allowing laser treatment of practically all materials. As a result, extremely precise processing techniques are under development considerably extending the number of the corresponding industrial and medical applications. Further progress in this field requires a better understanding of fundamental processes involved in the laser interactions. In addition, the success of several national and international involving the development and use of high power laser systems depends on the capacity of careful definition of damage threshold of their optical components. These points illustrate the importance of a detailed numerical modeling of laser interactions with dielectric materials. Under laser irradiation, seed electrons appear in the conduction band of dielectric materials due to photo-ionization process. Colliding with a third-body, these electrons are further heated in laser field. When the threshold electron energy is reached, electron-impact ionization begins. At the same time, the considered laser pulses are so short that electron sub-system has no time to reach an equilibrium state. The resulting optical properties are affected and the definition of the damage criterion should be revised. The proposed approach accounts for the non-equilibrium and provides a detailed description of all the involved processes. In particular, we consider the photo- and impact-ionization processes, as well as electron-electron, electron-phonon and electron-ion collisions. The electron energy distribution and heating of electronic and phonon subsystems is discussed. The role of laser parameters (wavelength, pulse duration, fluence) and material properties (energy gap, band structure) is investigated. The thermalization time is calculated and characterizes the non-equilibrium state as a function of laser pulse duration. A novel thermal criterion is proposed for damage definition based on the electron and phonon energies. The calculated damage thresholds are compared with recent experimental findings. An analysis of other criteria (classical optical breakdown and thermal) is also performed
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Nikita Shcheblanov. Numerical study of femtosecond laser interactions with dielectric materials : application to the definition of damage threshold of optical components. Optics [physics.optics]. Université Jean Monnet - Saint-Etienne, 2013. English. ⟨NNT : 2013STET4029⟩. ⟨tel-01124302⟩

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