Laser Heating of Multilayer Stacks

The physics of laser heating involves the absorption of optical energy and its conversion to heat by the sample, followed by diffusion and redistribution of this thermal energy through the volume of the material. When the sample is inho-mogeneous (as when it consists of several layers of differing optical and thermal properties) the absorption and diffusion processes become quite complex, giving rise to interesting temperature profiles throughout the body of the sample. This article describes some of the phenomena that occur in thin film stacks subjected to localized irradiation. We confine our attention to examples from the field of optical data storage, but the selected examples have many features in common with problems in other areas, and it is hoped that the reader will find this analysis useful in understanding a variety of similar situations.

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