Improving laser-based manufacturing
Ultrafast lasers, which pulse at durations of 100 femtoseconds, or quadrillionths of a second, and cause electrons to reach temperatures above 60,000 degrees Celsius, are commonly used in the creation of solar cells and biosensors. Previous high-speed image research has shown that tiny mushroom clouds form when these lasers are used to create patterns and textures on the surface of metals, ceramics or other materials. But, new research reveals that an even earlier cloud forms before this later mushroom cloud. The initial cloud is composed of a plasma of charged particles and actually interferes with later laser pulses, lessening the performance of the laser. Further research into this cloud and methods to prevent it from interfering could improve laser-based manufacturing, diagnostics and research.