Mechanisms of Resonant Infrared Matrix-Assisted Pulsed Laser Evaporation

TitleMechanisms of Resonant Infrared Matrix-Assisted Pulsed Laser Evaporation
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2011
AuthorsTorres, Ricardo D., Johnson Stephen L., Haglund Richard F., Hwang Jungseek, Burn P. L., and Holloway Paul H.
JournalCritical Reviews in Solid State and Materials Sciences
Date Published05/2011
AbstractFor the last decade, a variant of pulsed laser ablation, Resonant-Infrared Matrix-Assisted Pulsed Laser Evaporation (RIR-MAPLE), has been studied as a deposition technique for organic and polymeric materials. RIR-MAPLE minimizes photochemical damage from direct interaction with the intense laser beam by encapsulating the polymer in a high infrared-absorption solvent matrix. This review critically examines the thermally-induced ablation mechanisms resulting from irradiation of cryogenic solvent matrices by a tunable free electron laser (FEL). A semi-empirical model is used to calculate temperatures as a function of time in the focal volume and determine heating rates for different resonant modes in two model solvents, based on the thermodynamics and kinetics of the phase transitions induced in the solvent matrices. Three principal ablation mechanisms are discussed, namely normal vaporization at the surface, normal boiling, and phase explosion. Normal vaporization is a highly inefficient polymer deposition mechanism as it relies on collective collisions with evaporating solvent molecules. Diffusion length calculations for heterogeneously nucleated vapor bubbles show that normal boiling is kinetically limited. During high-power pulsed-FEL irradiation, phase explosion is shown to be the most significant contribution to polymer deposition in RIR-MAPLE. Phase explosion occurs when the target is rapidly heated (108 to 1010 K/s) and the solvent matrix approaches its critical temperature. Spontaneous density stratification (spinodal decay) within the condensed metastable phase leads to rapid homogeneous nucleation of vapor bubbles. As these vapor bubbles interconnect, large pressures build up within the condensed phase, leading to target explosions and recoil-induced ejections of polymer to a near substrate. Phase explosion is a temperature (fluence) threshold-limited process, while surface evaporation can occur even at very low fluences.