The coupling between surface deformation and defect motion may be at the origin of deformation patterns in thin films under laser irradiation. We analyze the dynamics of laser-induced vacancy densities and deformation fields and show how it triggers deformational instabilities, in the case of uniform and focused laser irradiation. Pattern selection analysis is performed, through linear, nonlinear, and numerical methods. In irradiation with extended beams, we show that, according to the relative importance of nonlinearities arising from the defect or from the bending dynamics, square, hexagonal or even quasi-periodic patterns are selected. It appears, furthermore, that one-dimensional gratings are always unstable in isotropic systems. In irradiation with focused laser beams, rose deformation patterns, with petal number increasing with laser intensity, naturally arise in this model, in qualitative agreement with experimental observations. These results claim for more systematic and quantitative experimental investigations of deformational pattern formation under laser irradiation.

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