The three dimensional spatiotemporal response of thin metal films surfaces excited by nanosecond laser pulses is investigated in both the thermoelastic and the ablation regimes. An experimental laser whole-field interferometric technique allows for the direct monitoring of the dynamic deformation of a macroscopic area on the surface with ultrahigh lateral resolution. A specially developed three dimension finite element model simulates the laser-surface interaction, predicts the experimentally obtained results, and computes key parameters of matter's thermomechanical response. This method provides a powerful instrument for spatiotemporal behavior of thin-film surfaces under extreme conditions demanded for innovative applications.

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