Theory and simulation on the threshold of water breakdown induced by focused ultrashort laser pulses

Q. Feng, J. V. Moloney, A. C. Newell, E. M. Wright, K. Cook, P. K. Kennedy, D. X. Hammer, B. A. Rockwell, C. R. Thompson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

189 Scopus citations


A comprehensive model is developed for focused pulse propagation in water. The model incorporates self-focusing, group velocity dispersion, and laser-induced breakdown in which an electron plasma is generated via cascade and multiphoton ionization processes. The laser-induced breakdown is studied first without considering self-focusing to give a breakdown threshold of the light intensity, which compares favorably with existing experimental results. The simple study also yields the threshold dependence on pulse duration and input spot size, thus providing a framework to view the results of numerical simulations of the full model. The simulations establish the breakdown threshold in input power and reveal qualitatively different behavior for pico-and femto-second pulses. For longer pulses, the cascade process provides the breakdown mechanism, while for shorter pulses the cooperation between the self-focusing and the multiphoton plasma generation dominates the breakdown threshold.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)127-137
Number of pages11
JournalIEEE Journal of Quantum Electronics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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