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Importance of surface topography on pulsed laser-induced damage threshold of Sapphire crystals

Abstract : We measure the laser-induced damage threshold (LIDT) fluence under single shot at the surface of Sapphire samples prepared following the standards of two methods yielding to different surface finish and used in optical and laser industry. We use AFM microscopy to measure the roughness parameter Ra and power spectral density (PSD) of the sample surface. We show that the quality of surface topography resulting from surface preparation affects the damage threshold of Sapphire crystals exposed to femtosecond, picosecond, and nanosecond laser conditions at visible and near-infrared wavelengths. We observe a higher resistance to laser damage or macroscopic modification when the surface finish presents a smooth and regular topography. We indeed measure a 1.4 to 2 times increase of the LIDT fluence in femtosecond and picosecond regimes and up to 5 times with nanosecond pulses. Using simple damage model and PSD data, we correlate the LIDT reduction of Sapphire samples of lower quality of surface finish with the high-frequency tail component of their PSD distribution corresponding to striations of the width of a fraction of the laser wavelength. This study emphasizes the importance of detailed assessment of surface topography for laser damage evaluation and understanding and for indicating directions of improvement.
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Benoît Bussiere, Nicolas Sanner, Marc Sentis, Olivier Uteza. Importance of surface topography on pulsed laser-induced damage threshold of Sapphire crystals. Scientific Reports, Nature Publishing Group, 2017, 7 (1), pp.1249. ⟨10.1038/s41598-017-01192-7⟩. ⟨hal-01630863⟩

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