The expected location of an air plasma produced by a focused YAG laser pulse has been found to be influenced by the acoustics of the surrounding environment. In open air, the expected location of a laser-induced air plasma is centered close to the focal point of the lens focusing the laser beam. When confining the same beam coaxially along the interior of a quartz tube, the expected location of the air plasma shifts away from the focal point, toward the focusing lens, in a region of less laser fluence. This shift is caused by an interaction between standing acoustic waves (formed from sound waves produced by previous laser-induced plasmas) and the impinging laser pulse. Standing acoustic waves in a tube produce areas (antinodes) of slightly higher and slightly lower pressure than ambient atmospheric conditions, that in turn have a noticeable affect on the probability of creating an air plasma at a given location. This leads to two observed phenomena: Increased probability of air plasma formation before the optical focal point is reached, and the formation of distinct (separate) air plasmas at the antinodes themselves.
Stephanie M. Craig, Kara Brownell, Brendon O'Leary, Christopher Malfitano, and Jude A. Kelley, "The Effect of Standing Acoustic Waves on the Formation of Laser-Induced Air Plasmas," Appl. Spectrosc. 67, 329-334 (2013)
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