The kinetics of low-temperature electron-phonon relaxation in a metallic film following instantaneous heating of the electrons
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The theoretical analysis of experiments on pulsed laser irradiation of metallic films sputtered on insulating supports is usually based on semiphenomenological dynamical equations for the electron and phonon temperatures, an approach that ignores the nonuniformity and the nonthermal nature of the phonon distribution function. In this paper we discuss a microscopic model that describes the dynamics of the electron-phonon system in terms of kinetic equations for the electron and phonon distribution functions. Such a model provides a microscopic picture of the nonlinear energy relaxation of the electron-phonon system of a rapidly heated film. We find that in a relatively thick film the energy relaxation of electrons consists of three stages: the emission of nonequilibrium phonons by “hot” electrons, the thermalization of electrons and phonons due to phonon reabsorption, and finally the cooling of the thermalized electron-phonon system as a result of phonon exchange between film and substrate. In thin films, where there is no reabsorption of nonequilibrium phonons, the energy relaxation consists of only one stage, the first. The relaxation dynamics of an experimentally observable quantity, the phonon contribution to the electrical conductivity of the cooling film, is directly related to the dynamics of the electron temperature, which makes it possible to use the data of experiments on the relaxation of voltage across films to establish the electron-phonon and phonon-electron collision times and the average time of phonon escape from film to substrate.
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