Evidence for phase-explosion and generation of large particles during high power nanosecond laser ablation of silicon
The craters resulting from high-irradiance (1×109–1×1011 W/cm2) single-pulse laser ablation of single-crystal silicon show a dramatic increase in volume at a threshold irradiance of 2.2×1010 W/cm2. Time-resolved shadowgraph images show ejection of large particulates from the sample above this threshold irradiance, with a time delay ∼300 ns. A numerical model was used to estimate the thickness of a superheated layer near the critical state. Considering the transformation of liquid metal into liquid dielectric near the critical state (i.e., induced transparency), the calculated thickness of the superheated layer at a delay time of 200–300 ns agreed with the measured crater depths. This agreement suggests that induced transparency promotes the formation of a deep superheated layer, and explosive boiling within this layer leads to particulate ejection from the sample.