Diamond, having many advanced physical and mechanical properties, is one of the most important materials used in the mechanical, telecommunication and optoelectronic industry. However, high hardness value and extreme brittleness have made diamond extremely difficult to be machined by conventional mechanical grinding and polishing. In the present study, the microwave CVD method was employed to produce epitaxial diamond films on silicon single crystal. Laser ablation experiments were then conducted on the obtained diamond films. The underlying material removal mechanisms, microstructure of the machined surface and related machining conditions were also investigated. It was found that during the laser ablation, peaks of the diamond grains were removed mainly by the photo-thermal effects introduced by excimer laser. The diamond structures of the protruded diamond grains were transformed by the laser photonic energy into graphite, amorphous diamond and amorphous carbon which were removed by the subsequent laser shots. As the protruding peaks gradually removed from the surface the removal rate decreased. Surface roughness (Ra) was improved from above 1μm to around 0.1μm in few minutes time in this study. However, a scanning technique would be required if a large area was to be polished by laser and, as a consequence, it could be very time consuming.
193nm-ArF excimer laser irradiation of amorphous silicon (a-Si) thin film has great potential on the production of poly-crystalline silicon (poly-Si) thin film transistor liquid crystal displays (TFT-LCDs). The main reason for applying poly-Si thin films instead of a-Si thin films on fabricating high performance electronics devices is due to its higher electron mobility, which is strongly influenced by the film's surface morphology, grain size, microstructure and defect density. The specimens used in this study have a 100 nm-thick a-Si thin films deposited on glass substrate by plasma enhanced chemical vapor deposition (PECVD) technique. The effects of annealing parameters, such as shot number, repetition rate and the fluence, on the surface morphology and recrystallization behaviour of a-Si thin films were investigated. The results showed that the threshold fluence of partial melting of a-Si thin films at 1Hz and single shot was around 150 mJ/cm<sup>2</sup>. Further increasing the fluence and shot numbers leads to the formation of microvoids trapped inside poly-Si film due to the evolution of hydrogen gas during the laser annealing process. The surface morphology formed during the recrystallization of amorphous Si thin films is found depending upon the laser fluence and shot numbers. The super-lateral grown (SLG) poly-Si grain can be obtained at the fluence around 190 mJ/cm<sup>2</sup>.
Owing to the high bonding energy, most of the glasses are removed by photo-thermal rather than photo-chemical effect when they are ablated by the 193 or 248nm excimer lasers. Typically, the machined surface is covered by re-deposited debris and the sub-surface, sometimes surface as well, is scattered with micro-cracks introduced by thermal stress generated during the process. This study aimed to investigate the nature and extent of the surface morphology and sub-surface damaged (SSD) layer induced by the laser ablation. The effects of laser parameters such as fluence, shot number and repetition rate on the morphology and SSD were discussed. An ArF excimer laser (193 nm) was used in the present study to machine glasses such as soda-lime, Zerodur and BK-7. It is found that the melt ejection and debris deposition tend to pile up higher and become denser in structure under a higher energy density, repetition rate and shot number. There are thermal stress induced lateral cracks when the debris covered top layer is etched away. Higher fluence and repetition rate tend to generate more lateral and median cracks which propagate into the substrate. The changes of mechanical properties of the SSD layer were also investigated.