We have theoretically and experimentally analyzed the laser‐induced evaporation process for deposition of superconducting thin films from bulk targets. The spatial thickness variations have been found to be significantly different from a conventional thermal deposition process. Unlike a cos θ thickness variation expected from a thermal evaporation process, the laser evaporation process is characterized by a forward‐directed deposit with a sharp variation in its thickness as a function of distance from the center of the deposit. We have studied in detail the interactions of nanosecond excimer laser pulses with bulk YBa2Cu3O7 targets leading to evaporation, plasma formation, and subsequent deposition of thin films. A theoretical model for simulating the pulsed laser evaporation (PLE) process has been developed. This model considers an anisotropic three‐dimensional expansion of the laser‐generated plasma, initially at high temperature and pressure. The forward‐directed nature of laser deposition has been found to result from anisotropic expansion velocities of the plasma edges arising due to the density gradients in the gaseous plasma.
The physical process of the laser ablation technique for deposition of thin films can be classified into three separate interaction regimes: (i) interaction of the laser beam with the bulk target, (ii) plasma formation and initial isothermal expansion, and (iii) adiabatic expansion leading to deposition of thin films. The first two regimes occur during the time interval of the laser pulse, while the last regime initiates after the laser pulse terminates. Under PLE conditions, the evaporation of the target is assumed to be thermal in nature, while the plasma expansion dynamics is nonthermal as a result of interaction of the laser beam with the evaporated material. The expansion velocities of the plasma edges are related to the initial dimensions and temperature of the plasma, and the atomic weight of the respective species present in it. Preliminary calculations have been carried out on spatial thickness variations as a function of various parameters in PLE deposited thin films. The effects of the various beam and substrate parameters including energy density and substrate‐target distance affecting the nature of deposition of superconducting thin films have been theoretically examined. Experimental results have been obtained from thin films deposited on silicon substrates by XeCl pulsed excimer laser (λ=308 nm, τ=45×10−9 s) irradiation. The spatial thickness and compositional variations in thin films have been determined using Rutherford backscattering technique and the results compared with the theoretical calculations.