Radiative cooling of laser ablated vapor plumes: experimental and theoretical analyses
A study was made of the cooling of the laser induced vapor plume in background air. The temperature and size variations of the vapor plume were determined from spectroscopic measurements during the first few tens of microseconds after the laser pulse. Experiments were carried out over a range of laser spot sizes and energies. The energy transport by thermal radiation from the vapor plume to the background air and to the test sample was formulated. Spectral line by line calculations were made by (a) calculating the detailed line emission profiles (valid for all optical depths), as well as by (b) dividing the lines into being either optically thin or optically thick. The calculations agreed with one another and with the experimental results for the decreasing vapor plume temperature. It was also shown that for optically thin conditions, which are often valid for small vapor plumes, the variation of the surface reflectivity of the test sample had very little effect on the cooling process. For optically thin conditions, the temperature decrease of the vapor plume was independent of the plume size, shape, and position. For larger optical thicknesses of the vapor plume, the calculations showed that the reflectivity of the sample surface and the size of the vapor plume would dramatically affect cooling of the vapor plume.