Combined atomistic-continuum model for simulation of laser interaction with metals: application in the calculation of melting thresholds in Ni targets of varying thickness
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The threshold laser fluence for the onset of surface melting is calculated for Ni films of different thicknesses and for a bulk Ni target using a combined atomistic-continuum computational model. The model combines the classical molecular dynamics (MD) method for simulation of non-equilibrium processes of lattice superheating and fast phase transformations with a continuum description of the laser excitation and subsequent relaxation of the conduction band electrons based on the two-temperature model (TTM). In the hybrid TTM-MD method, MD substitutes the TTM equation for the lattice temperature, and the diffusion equation for the electron temperature is solved simultaneously with MD integration of the equations of motion of atoms. The dependence of the threshold fluence on the film thickness predicted in TTM-MD simulations qualitatively agrees with TTM calculations, while the values of the thresholds for thick films and bulk targets are ∼10% higher in TTM-MD. The quantitative differences between the predictions of TTM and TTM-MD demonstrate that the kinetics of laser melting as well as the energy partitioning between the thermal energy of atomic vibrations and energy of the collective atomic motion driven by the relaxation of the laser-induced pressure should be taken into account in interpretation of experimental results on surface melting.
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