Description: The use of pulsed excimer lasers to surface processing of materials hinges on an understanding of the nature of the interaction between the laser energy and the material. The application of this understanding of the laser materials interaction to surface modification must also recognize the existence of thermodynamic driving forces and kinetic limitations in light of the short duration of a single pulse event. For species that have higher solubility in the liquid than in the solid phase, segregation by ``zone refinement`` from multiple passes by a solidification front to the surface results in surface enrichment of those species. The most obvious applications for surface processing occur where the bulk properties of a component are not commensurate with the needed surface properties. Improvements in surface mechanical properties have been observed in a number of metal and ceramic alloys. In the microelectronics industry, apart from micromachining or material removal applications, for which excimers are indeed well suited, the same features of the laser-materials interaction that are used to modify the mechanical or electrochemical properties of a surface can be used to advantage. Further advances, such as those demonstrated in microelectronics, await application-specific developments. 22 refs., 1 fig.
Date: August 1, 1996
Creator: Jervis, T.R.; Nastasi, M. & Hirvonen, J.-P.
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