High-aspect-ratio microholes have many important applications, but their drilling is very challenging. Femtosecond (fs) laser ablation provides a potential solution, but involves many complicated physical processes that have not been well understood, which have hindered its practical application. One of these is that the plasma induced by laser ablation at the hole bottom will transfer some of its energy to the hole sidewall as it expands in the microhole. The plasma–sidewall interaction has been rarely studied in literature, and it is still not clear if or not the energy transferred from the plasma is sufficient to cause significant material removal from the sidewall. Direct time-resolved observations are extremely difficult due to the small temporal/spatial scales and the spatial constraint inside the hole, while the sidewall characterization after laser ablation is difficult to distinguish between the possible material removal due to plasma energy transfer and that due to direct laser energy absorption by the sidewall. In this paper, a physics-based model is applied as the investigation tool to study the plasma–sidewall interaction in fs laser drilling of high-aspect-ratio microholes. It has been found that for the studied conditions the energy transferred from the plasma is not sufficient to cause significant material removal from the sidewall through any thermally induced phase change process.

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