Although the first nanoseconds to microseconds rule the resulting process yield of laser ablation in liquid, a comprehensive view involving combination of time-resolved measurement techniques is still lacking. In this paper, fundamental aspects of laser ablation of metals in water during the production of nanoparticles are discussed. Three fast diagnostic methods have been applied simultaneously. These are Optical Emission Spectroscopy for the plasma characterization, fast shadowgraph for plasma and cavitation bubble dynamics and laser scattering for the mechanisms of delivery of the produced materials in the liquid. Moreover, in order to validate the discussion, the effect on cavitation dynamics of the ablation of bulk and wire-shaped targets has been investigated together with the relative nanoparticles production yield. Unusual arrow–bow ejection phenomena between the cavitation bubble and the wire result in suppressed material back-deposition, causing efficient ejection of ablated matter into the liquid. The presented nanosecond and microsecond-resolved analysis allows estimating the timescale and role of the basic mechanisms involved in laser ablation in liquids as well as the thermodynamic characteristics of the processes.
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