We investigated the optical properties of pure copper irradiated by a femtosecond laser pulse. Self-absorption of 50-fs laser pulses at 800 nm and 400 nm wavelengths (below and above the interband absorption threshold, respectively) is studied for peak laser intensities up to 1015 W/cm2. Theoretical description of laser interaction with copper target is developed, solving numerically the energy balance equations for electron and ion subsystems together with Maxwell equations for laser radiation field inside the target. The theory accounts for both intraband and interband absorption mechanisms. We treated in detail the changes in electron structure and distribution function with an increase in electron temperature, as well as the ensuing changes in thermodynamic properties, collision frequencies, optical and transport coefficients. Experimental work on self-absorption of femtosecond laser pulses in copper targets at 800 nm and 400 nm wavelengths is ongoing. Results for 800 nm wavelength are reported. Theory and experiment are in good agreement.
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