Short pulse laser irradiation is a processing technique used in many material applications, including tuning the surface-wetting properties (from superhydrophilic to superhydrophobic), fabrication of black or colored metals, as well as strong enhancement of photoelectron and thermal emission from surfaces nanostructured by femtosecond laser irradiation.
While it is generally recognized that the laser-induced modification of surface properties is related to the generation of complex hierarchical nano- and micro-scale surface structures, detailed understanding of the relations between the basic mechanisms of laser interaction with materials is still lacking.
Using petascale atomistic simulations of short pulse laser interactions with metals, the research team will provide new information on the materials behavior under extreme non-equilibrium conditions of ultrafast heating and cooling, reveal the processes responsible for the generation of nanoparticles and formation of complex surface structures, and facilitate the development of new laser techniques. The results of the simulations will contribute to the fundamental understanding of the mechanisms of phase transformations and microstructure development under the highly non-equilibrium conditions created by short pulse laser irradiation.
The simulations will be performed with a hybrid atomistic-continuum model that combines classical molecular dynamics method with a continuum description of laser excitation and subsequent relaxation of the excited electrons. The model provides a detailed atomic-level description of fast non-equilibrium phase and structural transformation in the irradiated targets and, at the same time, ensures an adequate description of the laser light absorption by the conduction band electrons, the energy transfer to the lattice due to the electron-phonon coupling, and the fast electron heat conduction in metals.
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