Uniform subwavelength high-aspect ratio nanogratings on metal-protected bulk silicon produced by laser-induced periodic surface structuring

Applied Physics Letters, Volume 119, Issue 21, November 2021. Formation of highly ordered nanostructures on a crystalline silicon surface is highly demanded for novel optoelectronic and nanophotonic designs pushing toward development of inexpensive and high-performing nanostructuring technologies. Here, we demonstrate that laser-induced periodic surface structuring of c-Si protected by a thin Hf over-layer allows one to fabricate extremely uniform high-aspect-ratio gratings with a characteristic periodicity of [math]900–950 and 450 nm. Corresponding ordering originates from interference of incident IR femtosecond laser pulses with surface plasmons as well as doubling of the grating period via interference of counter-propagating plasmons. A high-melting-point Hf over-layer regulates the c-Si ablation in the plasmon-mediated interference maxima and prevents its excessive oxidation upon multi-pulse exposure in ambient environment. Considering unique high-aspect ratio morphology (a depth-to-period ratio of up to 1.24 and a depth-to-width ratio of up to 8) of the reported nanogratings, their outstanding uniformity, and rather fast printing rate of [math]0.2 mm2/s as well as possibility for its further upscaling, we envision high practical applicability of this technology in novel optoelectronic devices, visible and near-IR optics, all-dielectric metasurfaces, and sensors.