Formation of silicon nanoparticles and web-like aggregates by femtosecond laser ablation in a background gas
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We show that the mechanism of nanoparticle formation during femtosecond laser ablation of silicon is affected by the presence of a background gas. Femtosecond laser ablation of silicon in a H2 or H2S background gas yields a mixture of crystalline and amorphous nanoparticles. The crystalline nanoparticles form via a thermal mechanism of nucleation and growth. The amorphous material has smaller features and forms at a higher cooling rate than the crystalline nanoparticles. The background gas also results in the suspension of plume material in the gas for extended periods, resulting in the formation (on a thin film carbon substrate) of unusual aggregated structures including nanoscale webs that span tears in the film. The presence of a background gas provides additional control of the structure and composition of the nanoparticles during short pulse laser ablation.
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