The precision of the femtosecond-pulse laser ablation of TiN films on silicon
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Ti:sapphire laser pulses of 130 fs and 800 nm were focused on 3.2-μm-thick TiN films by a 60-mm focal length lens in air. The morphology of the ablated areas generated by laser pulses at a fluence slightly above the ablation threshold was characterized in dependence on the pulse number by scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and atomic force microscopy (AFM). The cavity profiles, depths, diameters, and volumes were quantitatively evaluated by AFM. The polarization state of the laser light is discussed as a further parameter, in addition to fluence and pulse number, that influences and controls the ablation precision of these materials. It was observed that circularly polarized radiation enhances the average ablation rates and reduces the roughness in the cavities by a factor of 2–3 as compared to linearly polarized radiation of the same incident laser fluence. Special attention was paid to the interfacial region between the coating and substrate. Ultrashort-pulse laser drilling into the Si substrate revealed the generation of columnar features which even may surmount the original coating under laser conditions.