Millimeter-long filaments and accompanying luminous plasma and defect channels created in fused silica (FS) by single focused femtosecond laser pulses with supercritical powers were probed in situ using optical imaging and contact ultrasonic techniques. Above the threshold pulse energy Eopt = 5 μJ corresponding to a few megawatt power levels pulses collapse due to self-focusing, producing channels filled by electron-hole plasma and luminescent defects, and exhibits predominantly compressive pressure transients. Analysis of the optical and ultrasonic response versus the laser pulse energy suggests that filamentary pulse propagation in the channels occurs with considerable dissipation of about 10 cm−1. The predominant ionization mechanism is most likely associated with avalanche ionization, while the main mechanism of optical absorption is free-carrier absorption via inverse Bremsstrahlung interaction with the polar lattice.
Applied Surface Science: proceedings of the Sixth International Conference on Photo-Excited Processes and Applications (6-ICPEPA), Sapporo, Japan, 09-12 September 2008, Vol. 255, no. 24 (Sep 2009), pp. 9721-9723