This paper describes methods by which one may calculate the effects of high‐power pulses of laser radiation of specified shapes absorbed at opaque surfaces. First the heating effects at levels where no phase change is produced are treated by ordinary thermodynamics. The vaporization produced by Q‐switched lasers should proceed differently from that produced by ordinary lasers and the two processes are treated separately. The amount of material vaporized by an ordinary laser pulse is calculated using conventional methods, while we adopt a phenomenological model to treat the case of the higher peak power pulses from Q‐switched lasers. The results are in agreement with experimental data.

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