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A 63, 109—115 (1996)

Femtosecond, picosecond and nanosecond laser ablation of solids

B.N. Chichkov, C. Momma, S. Nolte, F. von Alvensleben, A. Tu¨ nnermann

Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V., Hollerithallee 8, D-30419 Hannover, Germany

(Fax: #49-511/2788-100)

Received: 23 February 1996/Accepted: 27 February 1996

Abstract. Laser ablation of solid targets by 0.2—5000 ps

Ti : Sapphire laser pulses is studied. Theoretical models

and qualitative explanations of experimental results are

presented. Advantages of femtosecond lasers for precise

material processing are discussed and demonstrated.

PACS: 81.15

Eﬃcient use of lasers for precise material processing is

impossible without a thorough knowledge of the funda-

mental laws governing the interaction of laser radiation

with matter. For this goal systematic studies of the laser-

matter interaction are necessary. Due to the recent pro-

gress of laser systems, especially those based on the chir-

ped pulse ampliﬁcation (CPA) technique, such systematic

studies have become possible in a very broad range of

laser parameters. With CPA systems the laser pulse dura-

tion can be varied from about one hundred femtoseconds

to several nanoseconds leaving other laser parameters

unchanged. This allows to perform a very detailed analy-

sis of diﬀerent nonstationary laser-matter interaction pro-

cesses. As an example, recent investigations of the damage

threshold [1], of the ablation threshold [2], and of the

high-intensity laser ablation [3] can be mentioned. Note

that such systematic studies have just begun, much more

should be done for the understanding and demonstration

of the potential of femtosecond laser systems for precise

material processing.

Recently several experiments [4—6] comparing laser

ablation of solid targets by femtosecond and nanosecond

pulses have been performed. In [4] and [5, 6] advantages

of femtosecond lasers for precise material processing with

dye and excimer laser systems have been demonstrated. In

this paper, we present our results on ablation and hole

drilling with a commercial, 10 Hz, femtosecond Ti : Sap-

phire laser system which provides laser pulses at 780 nm

with a pulse energy of up to 100 mJ and a variable pulse

duration in the range of 0.2 to 5000 ps. Experiments are

performed in a low ﬂuence regime, slightly above the

evaporation threshold. This regime is most interesting for

precise material processing, since in this case the energy

deposited into the solid and the heat-aﬀected zones are

minimized. We discuss and demonstrate advantages of the

femtosecond-pulse lasers. We hope that our results can

stimulate new investigations in this ﬁeld. In Sect. 1, char-

acteristic features of the low ﬂuence laser ablation of metal

targets in three diﬀerent pulse duration regimes: fem-

tosecond, picosecond and nanosecond are considered.

The experimental setup and results are presented in

Sect. 2.

1 Theoretical background

During the interaction of low intensity short laser pulses

with metal targets the laser energy is absorbed by free

electrons, due to the inverse Bremsstrahlung. Then the

evolution of the absorbed laser energy involves thermali-

zation within the electron subsystem, energy transfer to

the lattice, and energy losses due to the electron heat

transport into the target. If we assume that the thermaliz-

ation within the electron subsystem is very fast and that

the electron and the lattice subsystems can be character-

ized by their temperatures (¹

C

and ¹

G

), the energy trans-

port into the metal can be described by the following

one-dimensional, two-temperature diﬀusion model [7, 8]:

C

C

c¹

C

ct

"!

cQ(z)

cz

!¸ (¹

C

!¹

G

)#S, (1)

C

G

c¹

G

ct

"¸ (¹

C

!¹

G

) , (2)

Q(z) "!k

C

c¹

C

/cz, S"I(t) A: exp (!:z) . (3)

Here z is the direction perpendicular to the target surface,

Q(z) is the heat ﬂux, S is the laser heating source term, I(t)

is the laser intensity, A"1!R and : are the surface

transmissivity and the material absorption coeﬃcient,

C

C

and C

G

are the heat capacities (per unit volume) of the

electron and lattice subsystems, ¸ is the parameter charac-

terizing the electron-lattice coupling, k

C

is the electron

thermal conductivity. In the above equations a thermal

conductivity in the lattice subsystem (phonon component)

is neglected. The electronic heat capacity is much less than

the lattice heat capacity, therefore electrons can be heated

to very high transient temperatures. When the electron

temperature (in units of energy) remains smaller than the

Fermi energy, the electron heat capacity and the

nonequilibrium electron thermal conductivity are given

by C

C

"C'

C

¹

C

(where C'

C

is a constant) and k

C

"k

(¹

G

) ·

¹

C

/¹

G

(where k

(¹

G

) is the conventional equilibrium ther-

mal conductivity of a metal) [9—11]. Expressions for the

coupling constant ¸ are given in [7, 12] and results of

recent measurements in [11, 13, 14].

Equations (1—3) have three characteristic time scales t

C

,

t

G

and t

*

, where t

C

"C

C

/¸ is the electron cooling time,

t

G

"C

G

/¸ is the lattice heating time (t

C

t

G

) and t

*

is the

duration of the laser pulse. These parameters deﬁne three

diﬀerent regimes of the laser-metal interaction which we

call femtosecond, picosecond and nanosecond regimes.

Femtosecond pulses

First we consider the case when the laser pulse duration is

shorter than the electron cooling time, t

*

t

C

. For tt

C

,

which is equivalent to C

C

¹

C

/t¸¹

C

, the electron-lattice

coupling can be neglected. In this case (1) can be easily

solved. Since the general solution of this equation is quite

complicated, we neglect the electron heat conduction term

in our formulas. This can be done when the following

condition is fulﬁlled D

C

t

*

(:\, where D

C

"k

C

/C

C

is the

electron thermal diﬀusivity. In this case (1) reduces to

C'

C

c¹

C

/ct"2I

?

: exp(!:z) (4)

and gives

¹

C

(t)"

¹

#

2I

?

:

C'

C

t exp (!:z)

. (5)

Here I(t)"I

is assumed constant, I

?

"I

A, and

¹

"¹

C

(0) is the initial temperature. At the end of the

laser pulse the electron temperature is given by

¹

C

(t

*

)K

2F

?

:

C'

C

exp(!z/o) , (6)

where ¹

C

(t

*

)¹

is assumed, F

?

"I

?

t

*

is the absorbed

laser ﬂuence, and o"2/: is the skin depth.

The evolution of the electron and lattice temperatures

after the laser pulse is described by (1—3) with S"0. Initial

conditions for the electron and lattice temperatures are

given by (6) and ¹

G

"¹

**. After the laser pulse the elec-
**

trons are rapidly cooled due to the energy transfer to the

lattice and heat conduction into the bulk. Since this elec-

tron cooling time is very short, (2) can be written as

¹

G

K¹

C

(t

*

) t/t

G

(here the initial lattice temperature is

neglected). The attainable lattice temperature is deter-

mined by the average cooling time of the electrons

t?

C

"C'

C

¹

C

(t

*

)/2¸ and is given by

¹

G

<¹

C

(t

*

)

C'

C

2C

G

K

F

?

:

C

G

exp (!:z) . (7)

Note that the problem of the hot electron relaxation

dynamics in metals after the excitation by a femtosecond

laser pulse has been intensively studied during the last

years [14—16]. It has been shown that the time scale for

the fast electron cooling and a considerable energy trans-

fer to the lattice is of the order of 1 ps.

The signiﬁcant evaporation occurs when C

G

¹

G

be-

comes larger than jD, where j is the density and D is

the speciﬁc (per unit mass) heat of evaporation. Using (7),

we can write the condition for strong evaporation in the

form

F

?

5F

RF

exp(:z) , (8)

where F

RF

KjD/: is the threshold laser ﬂuence for evapo-

ration with femtosecond pulses. Then the ablation depth

per pulse ¸ is

¸K:\ ln(F

?

/F

RF

) . (9)

The logarithmic dependence of the ablation depth on the

laser pulse ﬂuence is well known for the laser ablation of

organic polymers. Recently the logarithmic dependence of

the ablation depth per pulse has been demonstrated for

metal targets with femtosecond KrF-laser pulses [5].

Due to the very short time scales involved in the

ablation with femtosecond laser pulses the ablation pro-

cess can be considered as a direct solid-vapor (or solid-

plasma) transition. In this case the lattice is heated on

a picosecond time scale which results in the creation of

vapor and plasma phases followed by a rapid expansion in

vacuum. During all these processes thermal conduction

into the target can be neglected in a ﬁrst approximation.

These advantages of femtosecond laser pulses allow very

precise and pure laser-processing of metals (and other

solids) which is experimentally demonstrated below.

Picosecond pulses

Now we turn to the discussion of ablation with

picosecond laser pulses when the following condition is

fulﬁlled t

C

t

*

t

G

.

At a time tt

C

which is equivalent to C

C

¹

C

/t¸¹

C

,

(1) for the electron temperature becomes quasistationary,

and (1—3) reduce to

c/cz (k

C

c¹

C

/cz)!¸(¹

C

!¹

G

)#I

?

: exp(!:z)"0, (10)

¹

G

"

1

t

G

R

exp

!

t!0

t

G

¹

C

(0) d0#¹

. (11)

Here (2) for the lattice temperature is written in the inte-

gral form. These equations describe heating of metal tar-

gets by the laser pulses with t

*

t

C

. When the condition

tt

G

is fulﬁlled, (11) can be simpliﬁed due to the quasi-

stationary character of the electron temperature. Neglect-

ing ¹

, we get

¹

G

<¹

C

(1!exp(!t/t

G

)) <(t/t

G

) ¹

C

. (12)

As can be seen from this expression, in the picosecond

regime the lattice temperature remains much less than the

110

electron temperature. This allows to neglect the lattice

temperature in (10). The analysis of (10, 12) is especially

simple when the condition k

C

¹

C

:¸¹

C

is fulﬁlled.

In this case the electron cooling is due to the energy

exchange with the lattice. The electron temperature and

the lattice temperature at the end of the laser pulse are

given by

¹

C

<

I

?

:

¸

exp(!:z) , ¹

G

<

F

?

:

C

G

exp(!:z) . (13)

Note that the attainable lattice temperature after the laser

pulse is again determined by the electron cooling time.

Since t

C

t

*

, the attainable lattice temperature and

the lattice temperature at the end of the laser pulse are

approximately equal. In femtosecond and picosecond

regimes (7) and (13) give the same expressions for the

lattice temperature. Therefore, the condition for strong

evaporation given by (8), the ﬂuence threshold and

the ablation depth per pulse given by (9) remain un-

changed.

Thus, the logarithmic dependence of the ablation

depth on the laser pulse ﬂuence is also possible in the

picosecond range. In our derivations we have neglected

the electron heat conduction into the target. This is a very

crude assumption for the description of laser ablation of

metal targets in the picosecond regime. Laser ablation in

this case is accompanied by the electron heat conduction

and formation of a melted zone inside the target. In spite

that at the surface we can again consider evaporation as

a direct solid-vapor (or solid-plasma) transition, the pres-

ence of the liquid phase inside the target reduces the

precision of laser processing of metals in this regime (see

below).

Nanosecond pulses

Here we brieﬂy discuss ablation with nanosecond laser

pulses when the condition t

*

t

G

is fulﬁlled. In this case

the electron and lattice temperatures are equal

¹

C

"¹

G

"¹, and (1—3) reduce to

C

G

c¹/ct"c/cz (k

c¹/cz)#I

?

: exp(!:z) . (14)

Laser heating of metal targets by long laser pulses has

been a subject of many experimental and theoretical stud-

ies [17—20]. In this regime the absorbed laser energy ﬁrst

heats the target surface to the melting point and then to

the vaporization temperature. Note that metals need

much more energy to vaporize than to melt. During the

interaction the main source of energy losses is the heat

conduction into the solid target. The heat penetration

depth is given by l:(Dt), where D is the heat diﬀusion

coeﬃcient, D"k

/C

G

. Note that for long-pulse laser abla-

tion of metal targets the condition Dt

*

:1 is usually

fulﬁlled. The energy deposited inside the target per unit

mass is given by E

K

:I

?

t/jl. When at a certain moment

t"t

RF

this energy becomes larger than the speciﬁc heat of

evaporation D, signiﬁcant evaporation occurs. From the

condition E

K

:D we get t

RF

:D(Dj/I) (see [17]). Thus,

the condition for strong evaporation, E

K

'D (or t

*

't

RF

),

can be written as

I'I

RF

:

jDD

t

*

, F'F

RF

:jDD;t

*

(15)

for laser intensity and ﬂuence, respectively. The threshold

laser ﬂuence which is necessary for evaporation with long

laser pulses grows as t

*

.

In case of ablation with long laser pulses there is

enough time for the thermal wave to propagate into the

target and to create a relatively large layer of melted

material. In this case the evaporation occurs from the

liquid metal, which makes precise material processing of

metal targets in vacuum with nanosecond pulses very

complicated.

2 Experimental setup and results

Now we turn to the discussion of experimental results on

a low ﬂuence laser ablation of metals and other solids. In

our experiments a commercial femtosecond Ti : Sapphire

laser system (BMI Alpha 10A) based on the chirped-pulse

ampliﬁcation (CPA) technique [21] is used. A detailed

description of the principal setup is given in [22]. This

system provides laser pulses at 780 nm with a variable

pulse energy of up to 100 mJ. Due to the CPA technique

the pulse duration can be varied from 200 fs up to 400 ps.

In this pulse duration range the spectral pulse width

remains constant (approximately 8 nm). Pulse duration

measurements for pulses shorter than 10 ps are performed

by a background free second order autocorrelator and for

pulses longer than 10 ps by a picosecond streak camera

(Hadland, IMACON 500). Pulse widths of 3—5 ns are

obtained when the regenerative ampliﬁer (see [22]) is not

seeded by the femtosecond oscillator (Coherent, Mira

Basic). In this case the regenerative ampliﬁer operates as

an oscillator, and the spectral width of the generated

pulses is signiﬁcantly reduced. The time durations of the

nanosecond pulses have been measured by a photodiode

in combination with a fast sampling oscillograph and by

the streak camera.

Our experiments are performed in the low ﬂuence

regime (F"0.1—5 J/cm) with an imaging geometry. An

aperture (d"5 mm), mounted in the beam pass, is imaged

(with demagniﬁcation factor of <1/30) onto the target

surface by a f"140 mm suprasil lense. The laser beam

diameter is approximately 20 mm. As target materials

steel, copper, AlN and silicon plates are used. These plates

are attached to a computer controlled x,y,z-translation

stage which is mounted in a vacuum cell at a pressure

below 10\ mbar. The number of pulses which are neces-

sary to drill through the target plate is controlled by

a photodiode mounted behind the targets.

First we present our results on the laser processing of

metal targets. We compare holes drilled in 100 m thick

steel foils (in vacuum) with 10 laser pulses in three diﬀer-

ent regimes: femtosecond, picosecond and nanosecond. In

Fig. 1 schematic of femtosecond-pulse laser ablation and

the hole drilled with 200 fs, 120 J, F"0.5 J/cm laser

pulses are shown. As can be seen, there is no trace of the

molten material. Only a vapor dust ring around the hole.

111

a b

Fig. 2a, b. Schematic of

nanosecond-pulse laser ablation

and holes drilled in a 100 m

thick steel foil with (a) 80 ps,

900 J, F"3.7 J/cm; and

(b) 3.3 ns, 1 mJ, and

F"4.2 J/cm laser pulses at

780 nm

Fig. 1. Schematic of femtosecond-pulse laser ablation and a SEM

photograph of a hole drilled in a 100 m thick steel foil with 200 fs,

120 J, F"0.5 J/cm laser pulses at 780 nm

In Fig. 2 schematic of nanosecond-pulse laser ablation

and the holes drilled with (a) 80 ps, 900 J, F"3.7 J/cm;

and (b) 3.3 ns, 1 mJ, and F"4.2 J/cm laser pulses are

shown. The trace of the molten material can be seen in

these ﬁgures. The presence of liquid phase leads to an

unstable drilling process (see Fig. 2a). In case of ablation

with nanosecond pulses there is enough time for the

thermal wave to propagate into the metal target and

to create a relatively large molten layer. In this case the

target material is removed both in vapor and liquid

phases, since the vaporization process creates a recoil

pressure that expels the liquid. In Fig. 2b a ‘‘corona’’

created due to the recoil vapor pressure is clearly seen.

Note that these are the best results which we obtain with

80 ps and 3.3 ns laser pulses at ﬂuences as low as possible.

When the laser ﬂuence is reduced further the drilling

through the 100 m steel plate in vacuum becomes im-

possible.

Comparing Fig. 1 and Fig. 2, the advantages of fem-

tosecond-pulse lasers for precise material processing be-

come evident. Moreover, due to the absence of thermal

losses in the femtosecond regime, holes in metal targets

can be drilled with much lower laser ﬂuences.

Below we present additional illustrative information

on femtosecond-pulse laser ablation of diﬀerent targets

with the second harmonic of Ti : Sapphire laser radiation

(z"390). The second harmonic is used to minimize dif-

fraction eﬀects and to improve the quality of image projec-

tion. In Fig. 3 the development of the ablation process

with the increasing number of 250 fs, 0.5 mJ, and

F"2.5 J/cm laser pulses a) 10, b) 100, c) 10 and

d) 5;10 is shown. The target is a 0.5 mm steel plate. In

Fig. 3c the creation of characteristic structures is clearly

seen. These structures appear due to the instability of

a plane evaporation front [23].

In Fig. 4 the evolution of femtosecond-pulse laser

ablation of a 1 mm thick copper target is shown with:

a) 10, b) 100, c) 10, and d) 3;10 pulses. In Fig. 5

112

Fig. 3a–d. Femtosecond-pulse

laser processing of a 0.5 mm

steel plate with 250 fs, 0.5 mJ,

and F"2.5 J/cm second

harmonic radiation

(z"390 nm) and diﬀerent

number of pulses: (a) 10,

(b) 100, (c) 1000 and (d) 5000

laser pulses

Fig. 4a–d. Evolution of

femtosecond-pulse laser

ablation of a 1 mm thick copper

target with: (a) 10, (b) 100,

(c) 10, and (d) 3;10 pulses.

Laser parameters are the same

as in Fig. 3

results of laser ablation of a 0.3 mm thick silicon target are

demonstrated with: a) 10, b) 100, c) 5;10, and d) 10

pulses. Redeposition of the ablated material on the target

surface is much stronger than in the case of metal targets.

In Fig. 6 the ablation of a 0.8 mm AlN target with: a) 10,

b) 10, and c) 3.5;10 laser pulses is illustrated. The

laser parameters in Figs. 4, 5 and 6 are approximately the

same as in Fig. 3.

113

Fig. 5a–d. Laser ablation of

a 0.3 mm thick silicon target

with: (a) 10, (b) 100, (c) 5;10,

and (d) 10 pulses. Laser

parameters are the same as in

Fig. 3

Fig. 6a–c. Ablation of a 0.8 mm

AlN target with: (a) 10, (b) 10,

and (c) 3.5;10 laser pulses.

Laser parameters are

approximately the same as in

Fig. 3

Closing this section we summarize the main features

of femtosecond laser material processing: very rapid

creation of vapor and plasma phases, negligible heat

conduction and the absence of liquid phase. The

absence of the liquid phase allows better control during

the drilling process. Therefore, the reproducibility

of our results with femtosecond laser pulses is very

good.

114

3 Conclusion

Theoretical models and experimental results on femto-

second, picosecond and nanosecond laser ablation of

metal targets are presented. Very pure ablation of metal

targets in vacuum with femtosecond laser pulses is demon-

strated. Sharp well deﬁned patterns can be ablated in

metal and other solid targets by an image projection

technique. These advantages of femtosecond lasers are

very promising for their future applications in precise

material processing.

Acknowledgements. We would like to thank Hanna Jacobs for tech-

nical assistance and acknowledge ﬁnancial support by the German

Ministry of Science, Education, Research, and Technology (BMBF,

13N6590/0).

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115

Equations (1—3) have three characteristic time scales . In the above equations a thermal conductivity in the lattice subsystem (phonon component) is neglected. When the condition * C t is fulﬁlled. Since this electron cooling time is very short. It has been shown that the time scale for the fast electron cooling and a considerable energy transfer to the lattice is of the order of 1 ps. we get ¹ < ¹ (1!exp (!t/ )) < (t/ ) ¹ . where is the density and is the speciﬁc (per unit mass) heat of evaporation. Recently the logarithmic dependence of the ablation depth per pulse has been demonstrated for metal targets with femtosecond KrF-laser pulses [5]. where D "k /C is the C * C C C electron thermal diﬀusivity. In this case (1) can be easily solved. (2) can be written as ¹ K¹ ( ) t/ (here the initial lattice temperature is G C * G neglected). picosecond and nanosecond regimes. . In this case the lattice is heated on a picosecond time scale which results in the creation of vapor and plasma phases followed by a rapid expansion in vacuum. The signiﬁcant evaporation occurs when C ¹ beG G comes larger than . Initial conditions for the electron and lattice temperatures are given by (6) and ¹ "¹ . * C C which is equivalent to C ¹ /t ¹ . (11) can be simpliﬁed due to the quasiG stationary character of the electron temperature. During all these processes thermal conduction into the target can be neglected in a ﬁrst approximation. 12] and results of recent measurements in [11. Note that the problem of the hot electron relaxation dynamics in metals after the excitation by a femtosecond laser pulse has been intensively studied during the last years [14—16]. After the laser pulse the elecG trons are rapidly cooled due to the energy transfer to the lattice and heat conduction into the bulk. 14]. therefore electrons can be heated to very high transient temperatures. These equations describe heating of metal targets by the laser pulses with . and "2/ is the skin depth. The electronic heat capacity is much less than the lattice heat capacity. (10) C C C G ? R 1 t! ¹" ¹ ( ) d #¹ . Femtosecond pulses First we consider the case when the laser pulse duration is shorter than the electron cooling time. the electron heat capacity and the nonequilibrium electron thermal conductivity are given by C "C ¹ (where C is a constant) and k "k (¹ )· C C G C C C ¹ /¹ (where k (¹ ) is the conventional equilibrium therC G G mal conductivity of a metal) [9—11]. Then the ablation depth per pulse ¸ is ¸ K \ ln (F /F ) . the electron-lattice C C C coupling can be neglected. I "I A. Using (7). (6) C C where ¹ ( )¹ is assumed. At the end of the C laser pulse the electron temperature is given by 2F ? exp (!z/ ) . (9) ? RF The logarithmic dependence of the ablation depth on the laser pulse ﬂuence is well known for the laser ablation of organic polymers. where "C / is the electron cooling time. in the picosecond regime the lattice temperature remains much less than the . and ? ¹ "¹ (0) is the initial temperature. and (1—3) reduce to */*z (k *¹ /*z)! (¹ !¹ )#I exp (! z)"0. When the electron temperature (in units of energy) remains smaller than the Fermi energy. (8) ? RF where F K / is the threshold laser ﬂuence for evapoRF ration with femtosecond pulses. These advantages of femtosecond laser pulses allow very precise and pure laser-processing of metals (and other solids) which is experimentally demonstrated below. The evolution of the electron and lattice temperatures after the laser pulse is described by (1—3) with S"0. In this case (1) reduces to C *¹ /*t"2I exp (! z) C ? C and gives (4) 2I ¹ (t)" ¹# ? t exp (! z) . Due to the very short time scales involved in the ablation with femtosecond laser pulses the ablation process can be considered as a direct solid-vapor (or solidplasma) transition. For t . C * G At a time t which is equivalent to C ¹ /t ¹ . (7) C * 2C G C G G ¹ ( )K C * Picosecond pulses Now we turn to the discussion of ablation with picosecond laser pulses when the following condition is fulﬁlled . Since the general solution of this equation is quite complicated. These parameters deﬁne three diﬀerent regimes of the laser-metal interaction which we call femtosecond. we neglect the electron heat conduction term in our formulas. (5) C C C Here I(t)"I is assumed constant. G * C C "C / is the lattice heating time ( ) and is the G G C G * duration of the laser pulse. we can write the condition for strong evaporation in the form F 5F exp ( z) . (11) exp ! G C G G Here (2) for the lattice temperature is written in the integral form. C C C C (1) for the electron temperature becomes quasistationary. C and . Expressions for the coupling constant are given in [7. (12) G C G G C As can be seen from this expression. 13. F "I is the absorbed C * ? ? * laser ﬂuence. This can be done when the following condition is fulﬁlled D ( \.110 thermal conductivity. The attainable lattice temperature is determined by the average cooling time of the electrons ?"C ¹ ( )/2 and is given by C C * C C F ¹ <¹ ( ) C K ? exp (! z) . Neglecting ¹ .

The analysis of (10. mounted in the beam pass. In femtosecond and picosecond regimes (7) and (13) give the same expressions for the lattice temperature. which makes precise material processing of metal targets in vacuum with nanosecond pulses very complicated. F'F : D. Pulse duration measurements for pulses shorter than 10 ps are performed by a background free second order autocorrelator and for pulses longer than 10 ps by a picosecond streak camera (Hadland. 1 schematic of femtosecond-pulse laser ablation and the hole drilled with 200 fs. is imaged (with demagniﬁcation factor of <1/30) onto the target surface by a f"140 mm suprasil lense. the attainable lattice temperature and C * the lattice temperature at the end of the laser pulse are approximately equal. (14) G ? Laser heating of metal targets by long laser pulses has been a subject of many experimental and theoretical studies [17—20]. Thus. F"0. AlN and silicon plates are used. 120 J. Due to the CPA technique the pulse duration can be varied from 200 fs up to 400 ps. The electron temperature and the lattice temperature at the end of the laser pulse are given by I F ¹ < ? exp (! z). These plates are attached to a computer controlled x. Mira Basic). * RF * for laser intensity and ﬂuence.5 J/cm laser pulses are shown. the logarithmic dependence of the ablation depth on the laser pulse ﬂuence is also possible in the picosecond range. Note that for long-pulse laser abla G 1 is usually tion of metal targets the condition D * fulﬁlled. where D is the heat diﬀusion coeﬃcient. the presence of the liquid phase inside the target reduces the precision of laser processing of metals in this regime (see below). In this case * G the electron and lattice temperatures are equal ¹ "¹ "¹. Pulse widths of 3—5 ns are obtained when the regenerative ampliﬁer (see [22]) is not seeded by the femtosecond oscillator (Coherent. K * RF . In this pulse duration range the spectral pulse width remains constant (approximately 8 nm).z-translation stage which is mounted in a vacuum cell at a pressure below 10\ mbar. Laser ablation in this case is accompanied by the electron heat conduction and formation of a melted zone inside the target. there is no trace of the molten material. can be written as I'I : RF D (15) . In our experiments a commercial femtosecond Ti : Sapphire laser system (BMI Alpha 10A) based on the chirped-pulse ampliﬁcation (CPA) technique [21] is used. The time durations of the nanosecond pulses have been measured by a photodiode in combination with a fast sampling oscillograph and by the streak camera. In this case the regenerative ampliﬁer operates as an oscillator.1—5 J/cm) with an imaging geometry. When at a certain moment K ? t"t this energy becomes larger than the speciﬁc heat of RF evaporation . Note that metals need much more energy to vaporize than to melt. the ﬂuence threshold and the ablation depth per pulse given by (9) remain unchanged. respectively. 2 Experimental setup and results Now we turn to the discussion of experimental results on a low ﬂuence laser ablation of metals and other solids. In our derivations we have neglected the electron heat conduction into the target. This allows to neglect the lattice temperature in (10). As can be seen. In spite that at the surface we can again consider evaporation as a direct solid-vapor (or solid-plasma) transition. A detailed description of the principal setup is given in [22]. An aperture (d"5 mm). This system provides laser pulses at 780 nm with a variable pulse energy of up to 100 mJ. We compare holes drilled in 100 m thick steel foils (in vacuum) with 10 laser pulses in three diﬀerent regimes: femtosecond. Nanosecond pulses Here we brieﬂy discuss ablation with nanosecond laser pulses when the condition is fulﬁlled. From the condition E : we get t :D ( /I) (see [17]). First we present our results on the laser processing of metal targets. copper. K RF the condition for strong evaporation. picosecond and nanosecond. D"k /C . The heat penetration depth is given by l:(Dt). the condition for strong evaporation given by (8). ¹ < ? exp (! z) . IMACON 500). 12) is especially simple when the condition k ¹ ¹ is fulﬁlled. Therefore. and the spectral width of the generated pulses is signiﬁcantly reduced. Our experiments are performed in the low ﬂuence regime (F"0. signiﬁcant evaporation occurs. The number of pulses which are necessary to drill through the target plate is controlled by a photodiode mounted behind the targets. The threshold laser ﬂuence which is necessary for evaporation with long laser pulses grows as . (13) C G C G Note that the attainable lattice temperature after the laser pulse is again determined by the electron cooling time.111 electron temperature. Only a vapor dust ring around the hole. * In case of ablation with long laser pulses there is enough time for the thermal wave to propagate into the target and to create a relatively large layer of melted material. E ' (or 't ). In this regime the absorbed laser energy ﬁrst heats the target surface to the melting point and then to the vaporization temperature. The laser beam diameter is approximately 20 mm. and (1—3) reduce to C G C *¹/*t"*/*z (k *¹/*z)#I exp (! z) .y. C C C In this case the electron cooling is due to the energy exchange with the lattice. Thus. In this case the evaporation occurs from the liquid metal. During the interaction the main source of energy losses is the heat conduction into the solid target. Since . The energy deposited inside the target per unit mass is given by E :I t/ l. This is a very crude assumption for the description of laser ablation of metal targets in the picosecond regime. In Fig. As target materials steel.

b.5 J/cm laser pulses at 780 nm In Fig. 5 Fig. 1 mJ. since the vaporization process creates a recoil pressure that expels the liquid. c) 10 and d) 5. The target is a 0. 4 the evolution of femtosecond-pulse laser ablation of a 1 mm thick copper target is shown with: a) 10. The presence of liquid phase leads to an unstable drilling process (see Fig. Schematic of nanosecond-pulse laser ablation and holes drilled in a 100 m thick steel foil with (a) 80 ps. 120 J.3 ns laser pulses at ﬂuences as low as possible. In Fig. F"0.5 J/cm laser pulses a) 10. In this case the target material is removed both in vapor and liquid phases.5 mJ. holes in metal targets can be drilled with much lower laser ﬂuences. 3 the development of the ablation process with the increasing number of 250 fs. Schematic of femtosecond-pulse laser ablation and a SEM photograph of a hole drilled in a 100 m thick steel foil with 200 fs. b) 100. 2a.10 pulses. In Fig. F"3. and (b) 3. and (b) 3. and F"4. 1 and Fig.112 Fig.3 ns. In case of ablation with nanosecond pulses there is enough time for the thermal wave to propagate into the metal target and to create a relatively large molten layer. In Fig. due to the absence of thermal losses in the femtosecond regime.2 J/cm laser pulses are shown.3 ns. Comparing Fig. When the laser ﬂuence is reduced further the drilling through the 100 m steel plate in vacuum becomes impossible. 0. Below we present additional illustrative information on femtosecond-pulse laser ablation of diﬀerent targets with the second harmonic of Ti : Sapphire laser radiation ( "390). 2 schematic of nanosecond-pulse laser ablation and the holes drilled with (a) 80 ps. c) 10. The second harmonic is used to minimize diffraction eﬀects and to improve the quality of image projection. F"3. 900 J. the advantages of femtosecond-pulse lasers for precise material processing become evident.2 J/cm laser pulses at 780 nm a b . and d) 3. and F"2. 1 mJ. These structures appear due to the instability of a plane evaporation front [23]. Moreover. 2. Note that these are the best results which we obtain with 80 ps and 3. and F"4.10 is shown. b) 100. In Fig.5 mm steel plate. 1. 900 J.7 J/cm. The trace of the molten material can be seen in these ﬁgures. 3c the creation of characteristic structures is clearly seen. 2a). In Fig.7 J/cm. 2b a ‘‘corona’’ created due to the recoil vapor pressure is clearly seen.

10 pulses.3 mm thick silicon target are demonstrated with: a) 10. Laser parameters are the same as in Fig. (c) 1000 and (d) 5000 laser pulses Fig. 6 the ablation of a 0. b) 100. 3a–d. In Fig. 4a–d. 4. Femtosecond-pulse laser processing of a 0. (b) 100.8 mm AlN target with: a) 10. Evolution of femtosecond-pulse laser ablation of a 1 mm thick copper target with: (a) 10. and (d) 3.5 mm steel plate with 250 fs. c) 5. (b) 100. . The laser parameters in Figs. and F"2. and c) 3.113 Fig.10 laser pulses is illustrated. and d) 10 pulses. 3 results of laser ablation of a 0. 5 and 6 are approximately the same as in Fig.5 J/cm second harmonic radiation ( "390 nm) and diﬀerent number of pulses: (a) 10. b) 10.10.5.5 mJ. Redeposition of the ablated material on the target surface is much stronger than in the case of metal targets. (c) 10. 0. 3.

The absence of the liquid phase allows better control during the drilling process.5. negligible heat conduction and the absence of liquid phase.10. and (c) 3. (c) 5. and (d) 10 pulses. 5a–d. Ablation of a 0. 6a–c. .114 Fig. Laser ablation of a 0. Laser parameters are approximately the same as in Fig. (b) 100.3 mm thick silicon target with: (a) 10. the reproducibility of our results with femtosecond laser pulses is very good. 3 Fig.10 laser pulses. Laser parameters are the same as in Fig. Therefore. (b) 10.8 mm AlN target with: (a) 10. 3 Closing this section we summarize the main features of femtosecond laser material processing: very rapid creation of vapor and plasma phases.

1001 (1991) 23. Bunkin.M. Young: Opt. Mihailescu: ¸aser Heating of Metals (Adam Hilger. B. Lett. Lett. 411 (1995) 7. Du. M. Fedorov: Sov. A 60. H. Konov.K. A 61. B.C. I. J.L. P. We would like to thank Hanna Jacobs for technical assistance and acknowledge ﬁnancial support by the German Ministry of Science.B. L. Phys. V. S. W.I. Brunel. Rev. These advantages of femtosecond lasers are very promising for their future applications in precise material processing.S. Ya. Tunnermann. Perry: Phys. Rev. Ovchinnikova: Sov. Afanasiev. D.Z. Benditskii.I.B. Kondratenko. Feit. Makshantsev. V. A. Lee. A. Chichkov. Research. M. Tanatarov: Sov. Ashitkov. Kazeroonian. 16.I. Ippen. Face. 1875 (1987) 11. Epel’baum: Sov. M. Allen: Phys. Dresselhaus. Sharp well deﬁned patterns can be ablated in metal and other solid targets by an image projection technique. 600 (1994) ¨ 5.I. R.D. Bokor: Phys. P. 802 (1980) . QE — 2 483 (1966) 18. J.M. Anisimov. Eesley: Phys. V. —JETP 4. —Solid State 29. Y. S. Stepanov: Sov. I. Pronko. Ursu. Rev. Rev. Lin. M. 78. 311 (1973) 20. —JETP 39. J. 219 (1985) 22. 13592 (1992) 17. P. picosecond and nanosecond laser ablation of metal targets are presented. Lett. Schoenlein.L. N. Stuke: Appl. 1680 (1987) 16. H. Wang.115 3 Conclusion Theoretical models and experimental results on femtosecond. B.Y. Fujimoto. Sherman. X. B. accepted ¨ 4.B. Kmetec. Schmidt. Dutta. Phys. Lifshitz. Sklizkov: IEEE J. Momma. Fann.I.M.W.S. G. Rukman.V. Phys. Commun. J. 2886 (1988) 12. Batanov.B. Phys. Y. Acknowledgements. —JETP 52. Demchuk. M. Ready: Eﬀects of High-Power ¸aser Radiation (Academic.K. Storz. J.S. Moodera. G.W. Preuss. Lett. Krokhin. Prokhorov.N. Phys. Phys. I. 64. Phys. —JETP 36. Rev.V. Phys. Macklin. P.A. G. Kautek. Bristol 1990) 21. Kruger: SPIE Proc. 6233 (1995) 3. Kaganov.M. B. 13N6590/0). G. Very pure ablation of metal targets in vacuum with femtosecond laser pulses is demonstrated. S. T. References 1. J. von Alvensleben.F. Dresselhaus: Phys. J.W. Welling: Opt. Nolte. R. Education. W.N. Lett. Perel’man: Sov. 27 (1980) 10. Corkum.A. 1460 (1987) 13. Anisimov. J.G.I.M.I. E. 33 (1995) 6.M. Makshantsev. Prokhorov. Riﬀe. and Technology (BMBF.V. 173 (1957) 8.G.J. Srinivasan-Rao: Phys. T. Downer: Phys. Singh: J. M.D. M.P. S. Agranat.K.I.B. Commun. —JETP 51. Appl. W. A. Gandel’man. 61. Stuart. Lett. G. B. A. A.B.I. A. Ihlemann. O.K. Shore.L. Rev. F. B. G.K. . D. Anisimov. New York 1971) 19. I. Strickland. 59. Brorson. 56.D.V. Tom. Wolﬀ-Rottke: Appl. 375 (1974) 9. 74. 2172 (1990) 14. Rev. C. R.D.F. S. S. Rubenchik. A. 8016 (1994) 15. A. Cheng. Scholl. 2248 (1995) 2.Tribel’skii.I.S. B. Mourou: Opt. Phys. S. 58. B 46. 2207.N. D.P. B 50. T. M. F. J. D.M. Agranat. H.S. Kapeliovich. F. M.W. S.C.

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