Date of Award

Summer 2002

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Electrical & Computer Engineering


Electrical Engineering

Committee Director

Hani E. Elsayed-Ali

Committee Member

Karl H. Schoenbach

Committee Member

Linda L. Vahala

Committee Member

Michelle Shinn

Committee Member

Carl E. Bonner, Jr.


Thermal phenomena, such as heat propagation, lattice melting, and ablation, are the result of energy deposition in metals. A fundamental understanding of the electron dynamics leading to these thermal phenomena would benefit many laser applications, such as laser deposition of thin films and laser processing.

In this work, thin metal films were prepared using the resistive heating evaporation technique. High dynamic range autocorrelators were constructed to characterize the different laser systems used in this study. The nonequilibrium electron dynamics in single layer gold films, multi-layer gold-vanadium, and gold-titanium films were studied. The time evolution of the electron temperature was monitored using femtosecond time-resolved thermoreflectivity (ΔR/R) measurements. The validity of the Two-Temperature Model (TTM) in describing ultrafast laser heating processes was checked. The effect of the padding layer on the surface damage threshold was investigated.

The experimental results revealed a reduction of the thermoreflectivity signal, ΔRmax, for the multi-layer film that signifies a reduction in the surface electron temperature. Multi-shot damage experiments, in contrast to the thermoreflectivity measurements and the results of Qiu et al., showed no evidence of surface damage in the case of the gold sample, whereas the multi-layer sample experienced an onset of surface damage at the same experimental conditions. The suitability of the Two-Temperature Model (TTM) in describing the transport and relaxation dynamics of hot electrons accurately was verified. A new methodology for the correction of the TTM to account for the internal thermalization of the electron gas and convolution effects was achieved.


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