In situ measurement of plasma and shock wave properties inside laser-drilled metal holes
High-speed imaging of shock wave and plasma dynamics is a commonly used diagnostic method for monitoring processes during laser material treatment. It is used for processes such as laser ablation, cutting, keyhole welding and drilling. Diagnosis of laser drilling is typically adopted above the material surface because lateral process monitoring with optical diagnostic methods inside the laser-drilled hole is not possible due to the hole walls. A novel method is presented to investigate plasma and shock wave properties during the laser drilling inside a confined environment such as a laser-drilled hole. With a novel sample preparation and the use of high-speed imaging combined with spectroscopy, a time and spatial resolved monitoring of plasma and shock wave dynamics is realized. Optical emission of plasma and shock waves during drilling of stainless steel with ns-pulsed laser radiation is monitored and analysed. Spatial distributions and velocities of shock waves and of plasma are determined inside the holes. Spectroscopy is accomplished during the expansion of the plasma inside the drilled hole allowing for the determination of electron densities.