A computational model for nanosecond pulse laser-plasma interactions

Alessandro Munafò, Andrea Alberti, Carlos Pantano, Jonathan B. Freund, Marco Panesi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A multi-physics numerical model for laser-induced optical breakdown and laser-plasma interaction in a non-equilibrium gas is presented, accounting for: production of priming electrons via multi-photon ionization, energy absorption, cascade ionization, induced hydrodynamic response, and shock formation and propagation. The gas is governed by the Navier-Stokes equations, with non-equilibrium effects taken into account by means of a two-temperature model. The space-time dependence of the laser beam is modeled with a flux-tube formulation for the Radiative Transfer Equation. The flow governing equations are discretized in space using a second-order finite volume method. The semi-discrete equations are marched in time using an implicit-explicit (IMEX) dual time-stepping strategy, where diffusion and chemistry are solved implicitly, whereas convection is explicit. Application to a 20 ns long 50 mJ pulse laser-induced breakdown in quiescent O2 shows the advantages of this temporal discretization during and just after the laser pulse, while a less-expensive symmetric Strang splitting (with implicit chemistry) is sufficient for the post-breakdown gas dynamics after ≃ 0.1 μs. The integrated model is shown to reproduce key features of corresponding experiments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number109190
JournalJournal of Computational Physics
StatePublished - Apr 1 2020


  • IMEX methods
  • Laser-plasma interactions
  • Multi-photon ionization
  • Non-equilibrium gas dynamics
  • Operator splitting
  • Radiation transport

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Numerical Analysis
  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)
  • General Physics and Astronomy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Computational Mathematics
  • Applied Mathematics


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