Laser melting of thin metal films on a substrate is an essential step in a recently proposed technique for the fabrication of micro- and nanochannels of cross-sectional sizes varying from several hundred nanometers and a few micrometers. The metal film is electrolessly deposited on a glass substrate and then irradiated by a tightly focused laser beam. The molten material is removed from the hot region by the combined action of thermocapillary forces and evaporation. The film can then be used in subsequent manufacture steps such as wet etching or contact photolithography. We propose a mathematical model that describes laser-induced material removal from thin metal films. Our approach incorporates several important physical effects such as liquid flow in the melt, evaporation, thermocapillarity, as well as the re-solidification of the material due to heat losses into the substrate.

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