From femtosecond to nanosecond laser microstructuring of conical aluminum surfaces by reactive gas assisted laser ablation
A conical microstructure is one of the most versatile surface textures obtained by ultrashort laser micromachining. Besides an increased surface area, unique surface properties such as superhydrophilicity, increased absorptivity; and thermal emissivity can be tailored. On metals, usually ultrashort laser pulses in the femtosecond to low picosecond range are used to obtain these surface structures, whereas nanosecond laser pulses favor melting processes. Herein, we report on an investigation of reactive gas atmospheres such as oxygen, steam, and halogens during laser micromachining of aluminum with 6 ns laser pulses. At a reduced pressure of 20 hPa (air) with additional iodine vapor as reactive species, we found a perfectly microconical structured surface to be formed with nanosecond laser pulses. The resulting surface structures were proven to be free of residual halogens. The application of nanosecond instead of femtosecond laser pulses for the surface structuring process allows to apply significantly less complex laser sources.