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Formation of Nano- and Micro-Scale Surface Features Induced by Long-Range Femtosecond Filament Laser Ablation


In this work, we study the characteristics of femtosecond-filament-laser-matter interactions and laser-induced periodic surface structures (LIPSS) at a beam-propagation distance up to 55 m. The quantification of the periodicity of filament-induced self-organized surface structures was accomplished by SEM and AFM measurements combined with the use of discrete two-dimensional fast Fourier transform (2D-FFT) analysis, at different filament propagation distances. The results show that the size of the nano-scale surface features increased with ongoing laser filament processing and, further, periodic ripples started to form in the ablation-spot center after irradiation with five spatially overlapping pulses. The effective number of irradiating filament pulses per spot area affected the developing surface texture, with the period of the low spatial frequency LIPSS reducing notably at a high pulse number. The high regularity of the filament-induced ripples was verified by the demonstration of the angle-of-incidence-dependent diffraction of sunlight. This work underlines the potential of long-range femtosecond filamentation for energy delivery at remote distances, with suppressed diffraction and long depth focus, which can be used in biomimetic laser surface engineering and remote-sensing applications.

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