- The cloud of products formed following the detonation of lead azide (LA) contains solid particles. Utilizing a pulsed beam of a neodymium: yttrium aluminum garnet (Nd:YAG) laser, the particles are evaporated and hole burning through the opaque cloud is demonstrated. The characteristics of the hole and of the expanding cloud are monitored in real time by a HeNe beam, high‐speed framing photography and emission of excited Pb atoms. The hole is carried with the cloud and propagates at a constant velocity of 0.5–2.8 km/s, depending on the time and location of burning and given by d(h)/t(h), where d(h) is the distance from the LA sample to the center of the Nd:YAG beam and t(h) is the time from detonation to hole burning. The reduction in the number and size of the particles is monitored by scanning electron microscopy of the deposits formed on a substrate following the detonation. The propagation of the Nd:YAG laser pulse through the cloud is numerically modeled and provides an estimate of the increase in the temperature and the decrease of the size of the particles as a result of the interaction with the laser beam.