This paper is a report on the novel laser optoacoustic method for nondestructive evaluation of the depth of the subsurface damage in ground single-crystal silicon wafers. It is based on different mechanisms of laser excitation of ultrasound by absorption of Q-switched Nd:YAG laser pulses at the fundamental wavelength: the concentration-deformation mechanism in the undamaged single-crystal silicon and the thermoelastic one in the subsurface damaged layer. Due to the uniform heating of the whole damaged layer during the laser pulse action the amplitude of the compression phase of the laser-induced ultrasonic signal is proportional to the damaged depth. The rarefaction phase of this signal arises by absorption of the remaining laser energy in the single-crystal silicon beneath the damaged layer. The empirical relation between the depth of the subsurface damage and the ratio of the amplitudes of compression and rarefaction phases of the laser-induced ultrasonic signal can be fitted by a linear function within the depth variation and the corresponding spread of the signal amplitudes. The proposed method attracts some interest for in situ control of the solid surface condition that is important in different tasks of linear and nonlinear optics.
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