The temperature dependence of various processes can be extremely important in laser induced damage mechanisms. This has been well known since study in this field began. The ways in which temperature plays a role are both varied and many. However, one must be careful not to attribute too much of the responsibility for damage to temperature effects alone. Its specific roles must be carefully characterized and quantified.
On more than one occasion, there have been suggestions of temperature dependent absorption as an important pulsed laser damage mechanism in dielectrics. Similarly, there have been a collection of works supporting theories which do not significantly involve temperature. A comparison of both macroscopic and microscopic scales indicate that, in general, damage must consist of a natural series of evolutionary events that generally involve both temperature independent effects combined with those that are temperature dependent. The series of events that dominate in any process leading to damage depends critically upon the structure and state of the material involved and the photon energy that is incident, to name but the two most obvious. Thus, they must be tediously reconstructed for each given interaction, though certain cases, e.g., classes of material, may be generalized to some extent.
Recent works by the present authors have suggested the level of absorption involved in damage of certain optical films. Subsequently, some of the mechanisms for absorption were assumed and analyzed. In the present work some perspective is placed upon the role temperature plays in the steps leading up to damage.