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Nanotechnology. 2011 Feb 4;22(5):055304. doi: 10.1088/0957-4484/22/5/055304. Epub 2010 Dec 23.

Mechanism of fine ripple formation on surfaces of (semi)transparent materials via a half-wavelength cavity feedback.

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  • 1Centre for Micro-Photonics, Faculty of Engineering and Industrial Sciences, Swinburne University of Technology, Hawthorn, VIC, Australia.


The mechanism of the fine ripples, perpendicular to laser polarization, on the surface of (semi)transparent materials with period smaller than the vacuum wavelength, λ, of the incident radiation is proposed and experimentally validated. The sphere-to-plane transformation of nanoplasma bubbles responsible for the in-bulk ripples accounts for the fine ripples on the surface of dielectrics and semiconductors. The mechanism is demonstrated for 4H:SiC and sapphire surfaces using 800 nm/150 fs and 1030 nm/300 fs laser pulses. The ripples are pinned to the smallest possible standing wave cavity inside material of refractive index n. This defines the corresponding period, Λ = (λ/n)/2, of a light standing wave with intensity, E(2), at the maxima of which surface ablation occurs. The mechanism accounts for the fine ripples at the breakdown conditions. Comparison with ripples recorded on different materials and via other mechanisms using femtosecond pulses is presented and application potential is discussed.

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