A detailed mechanism of laser ablation requires knowledge of the initially formed species and the processes responsible for their conversion to final products. Quantitative analysis of the initial transient species is difficult. However, with qualitative identification of some of the transients and quantitative analysis of the final stable products, it may be possible to infer the chemical processes based on thermodynamic and kinetic considerations. We have recently reported such a study for XeCl excimer laser ablation of polyimide (PI), in which we obtained a mass balance for carbon by comparing the yields of particulate and gaseous products with the mass loss of the polymer in inert and oxidizing atmospheres.1 We have now obtained analogous data for KrF excimer laser ablation of PI, polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polystyrene (PS), and polyethylene (PE) in 1 atm of He, N2, air, or O2 to compare the effect of the polymer structure on the nature of the ablated species and their chemistry.
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