A study of the physicochemical modifications at micro and nano scales as a result of femtosecond laser processing is essential to explore the viability of this process to write surface and subsurface structures in transparent media. To this end, scanning probe and transmission electron microscopy and spectroscopy techniques were used to study these modifications in lithium niobate. A variable power Ti:Sapphire system (800 nm,300 fs) was used to determine the ablation threshold of (110) lithium niobate, and to write these structures in the substrate for subsequent analysis. Higher processing energies were used to amplify the laser-induced effects for a clear understanding. Evidences of a number of simultaneously occurring mechanisms such as melting, ablation, and shockwave propagation are observed in the scanning electron microscope (SEM) micrographs. X-ray diffraction (XRD), Auger and electron dispersive spectroscopy (EDS) studies indicate loss of lithium and oxygen from the immediate surface of the processed region. Raman spectroscopy analysis indicates an unchanged chemical composition in the bulk, though at a loss of crystallinity. The surface and subsurface damage structures display a different nature of the amorphous and damaged material subregions, as observed in the respective transmission electron microscopy micrographs. A variation in oxygen counts is observed in the amorphous subregions, indicative of oxygen liberation and elemental segregation during the process. The oblate subsurface structure contains a void at the top, indicative of localized explosive melting and rapid quenching of the affected material. Thus, femtosecond laser writing produces different structures on the surface and the subsurface of the material. These results provide physicochemical insight towards writing chemically and spatially precise structures using femtosecond lasers, and will have direct implications in optical memory and waveguide writing and related applications.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physics and Astronomy(all)