Date of this Version
APPLIED PHYSICS LETTERS 108, 031602 (2016)
Femtosecond laser surface processing (FLSP) is an emerging technique for creating functionalized surfaces with specialized properties, such as broadband optical absorption or superhydrophobicity/ superhydrophilicity. It has been demonstrated in the past that FLSP can be used to form two distinct classes of mound-like, self-organized micro/nanostructures on the surfaces of various metals. Here, the formation mechanisms of below surface growth (BSG) and above surface growth (ASG) mounds on polycrystalline Ni60Nb40 are studied. Cross-sectional imaging of these mounds by focused ion beam milling and subsequent scanning electron microscopy revealed evidence of the unique formation processes for each class of microstructure. BSG-mound formation during FLSP did not alter the microstructure of the base material, indicating preferential valley ablation as the primary formation mechanism. For ASG-mounds, the microstructure at the peaks of the mounds was clearly different from the base material. Transmission electron microscopy revealed that hydrodynamic melting of the surface occurred during FLSP under ASG-mound forming conditions. Thus, there is a clear difference in the formation mechanisms of ASG- and BSG-mounds during FLSP.