Femtosecond laser-induced surface structures upon multiple pulses irradiation are strongly correlated with the pulse number, which in turn significantly affects successive laser-material interactions. By recording the dynamics of femtosecond laser ablation of silicon using time-resolved shadowgraphy, here we present direct visualization of the excitation of air plasma induced by the reflected laser during the second pulse irradiation. The interaction of the air plasma and silicon plasma is found to enhance the shockwave expansion induced by silicon ablation in the longitudinal direction, showing anisotropic expansion dynamics in different directions. We further demonstrate the vanishing of air plasma as the pulse number increases because of the generation of a rough surface without light focusing ability. In the scenario, the interaction of air plasma and silicon plasma disappears; the expansion of the silicon plasma and shockwave restores its original characteristic that is dominated by the laser-material coupling. The results show that the excitation of air plasma and the laser-material coupling involved in laser-induced plasma and shockwave expansion are structure mediated and dependent on the pulse number, which is of fundamental importance for deep insight into the nature of laser-material interactions during multiple pulses ablation.
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