The specific mechanisms which lead tothe formation of fractal nanostructuresbypulsed laser deposition remain elusive despite intense research efforts, motivated mainly by the technological interest in obtaining tailored nanostructures with simple and scalable production methods. Here we focus on fractal nanostructures of titanium dioxide, TiO2, a strategic material for many applications, obtainedby femtosecond laser ablation atambient conditions.We compare a theoretical model of fractal formation with experimental data. The comparison of theory and experiment confirms that fractal aggregates are formed after landing of the ablated material on the substrate surface by a simple diffusive mechanism. Wemodel the fractal formation through extensive Monte Carlo simulations based ona set of minimal assumptions: TiO2 nanoparticles arrive already formed onthe substrate, then they diffuseinasize/mass independent way and stick irreversibly upon touching, thus forming fractal clusters. Despite its simplicity, our model explains the main features of the fractal structures arising from the complex interaction of large TiO2 nanoparticles with different substrates. Indeed our model is able to reproduce both the fractal dimensions and the area distributions of the nanostructures for different densities of the ablated material. Finally we discuss the role of the thermal conductivity of the substrate and the laser fluence on the properties of the fractal nanostructures. Our results represent an advancement towards controlling the production of fractal nanostructures by pulsed laser deposition.
- Diffusion limited cluster aggregation
- Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
- Fractal nanostructure
- Laser ablation supplementary material for this article is available online
- Polymers and Plastics
- Surfaces, Coatings and Films