We have performed experiments in which sample coupons of a commercial photostructurable glass ceramic (PSGC) material have been carefully exposed to various photon doses by pulsed UV nanosecond lasers at λ = 266 nm and λ = 355 nm. Following UV laser irradiation, the samples were analyzed by optical transmission spectroscopy to investigate the latent image and identify the photo-induced trapped (defect) state. The irradiated samples were thermally processed and the quenching of this trapped state and the concurrent growth of a spectral band associated with the formation of nanometer-scale metallic clusters was then observed using optical transmission spectroscopy. The results show that exposure at λ = 266 nm generates a defect state distribution that is markedly broader compared with the defect state distribution that is generated via λ = 355 nm excitation. The defect concentration formed with λ = 266 nm radiation is also much larger compared with the defect concentration associated with λ = 355 nm exposure. The results reveal that the metallic cluster concentration saturates with increasing laser irradiance, while the defect state concentration does not saturate. These studies have identified two precursor states of the exposed PSGC material that are tractable via spectroscopic techniques and could be used to refine the laser exposure and thermal processing of PSGC materials.© (2004) COPYRIGHT SPIE--The International Society for Optical Engineering. Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.