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The significant role of plasmonic effects in femtosecond laser-induced grating fabrication on the nanoscale



Nowadays, plasmonics aiming at manipulating light beyond the diffraction limit has aroused great interest on account of the promise of nanoscale optical devices. Generally, the ability to break diffraction barrier is achieved via controlling surface plasmons (SPs) on artificial structures as products of human ingenuity. Here, nevertheless, it is demonstrated that in short-pulse laser ablation ultrafast active plasmonic structures spontaneously generate by virtue of plasmonic effects rather than human will. First, with the experimental results on ZnO, Si, and GaAs, explicit evidence is provided for the grating-splitting phenomenon that acts as a direct route for the formation of laser-induced deep-subwavelength gratings. The splitting mechanism can break through the diffraction limit and push laser-induced structures towards the nanoscale. Then, through comprehensive numerical studies based on the viewpoint of plasmonics, it can be confirmed that the grating-splitting phenomenon originates in the conversion of SP modes from the resonant to the nonresonant mode and further to the inphase or antiphase asymmetric mode. In short, plasmonic effects play an important role in ultrafast laser-induced grating splitting towards the nanoscale, which will provide new insights into the mechanisms of ultrafast laser-induced nanostructures.