"Laser ablation" conjures up star-wars images of a high-powered laser beam obliterating anything in its path! In reality, this view is accurate. When a short-pulsed, high-peak-power laser beam is focused onto any solid target, a portion of the material instantaneously explodes into vapor. The drawing in Fig. 1 is a conceptual interpretation of laser ablation. Photographs in Figs. 2 and 3 show target results after laser ablation (with the use of multiple pulses and different laser-beam energies). Laser "craters" resemble those caused by meteorites striking a planet or volcanic eruptions.
Richard E. Russo, "Laser Ablation," Appl. Spectrosc. 49, 14A-28A (1995)