Recent advances in laser design provide the smooth reproducible single-mode pulses required1 for the quantitative comparison of theory and experiment in the laser-induced breakdown of gases. This paper applies microwave breakdown diffusion theory2 to our focused CO2 laser measurements and calculates an effective diffusion length Le and an effective pulse width Te from the measured shape of the laser pulse. Previous laser breakdown measurements3 have used fitting parameters for values of the diffusion length and usually for the laser pulse width.

© 1982 Optical Society of America

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