Short pulse lasers can be used to generate two types of short-lived, radiating plasmas. When absorbed by a semiconductor, a sudden optical pulse creates a charge-neutral, electron-hole plasma that radiates as the carriers relax in local crystal, surface, or applied electric fields. When focused onto the surface of an insulator or metal, the electric fields in an intense optical pulse break down the solid surface and surrounding gas. The charged particles in this surface-breakdown plasma radiate as they are cr…
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