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Control and understanding of the formation of micro/nanostructured metal surfaces using femtosecond laser pulses

Craig A Zuhlke, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


An application of femtosecond lasers that has developed, in recent years, is the functionalization of surfaces. With femtosecond laser ablation micro and nano-scale features can be created in a single step without affecting the bulk material. In this dissertation micro/nanostructuring of metal surfaces, specifically nickel and SS316, was carried out using femtosecond laser pulses. By varying the fluence (between 0.01 and 3.18 J/cm2), and pulse count (between 1 and 20,000 pulses) incident on the metal surface, a number of surface morphologies were produced. It was demonstrated that a number of these morphologies can be separated in regions based on fluence and shot number. The effects of other parameters were studied in less detail, including: polarization, stationary versus rastering pulses, atmosphere during processing (processing in nitrogen and oxygen), and lens aberrations. Two morphologies from femtosecond laser ablation of metals are demonstrated for the first time: spike shaped microstructures that have peaks above the original surface, and pyramid shaped structures (with a much lower aspect ratio than commonly published morphologies) covered in thick layers of nanoparticles. Similarities and differences are shown between the commonly published relief structures, with a blunt, round top (mounds) and the protruding spikes. This work shows that the morphologies are formed through a balance between fluid flow, nanoparticle/material redeposition and preferential etching. It can be observed by watching the development of individual microstructures with increasing pulse count, what role each of these processes plays in their development. Mounds, spikes, and pyramids each have a different balance of these processes, leading to the uniqueness of each morphology. As an application of these processes, studies were completed to utilize the high surface areas of these micro/nanostructures to produce ultracapacitor electrodes. This proved to be challenging, due to the poor electrical connection between nanoparticles, and further research is needed to improve these connections.

Subject Area

Electrical engineering|Optics|Materials science

Recommended Citation

Zuhlke, Craig A, "Control and understanding of the formation of micro/nanostructured metal surfaces using femtosecond laser pulses" (2012). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3546643.