Evolution of the Laser-Induced Spallation Technique in Film Adhesion Measurement

Hassan Ehsani, James D. Boyd, Junlan Wang, Martha E. Grady

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Laser-induced spallation is a process in which a stress wave generated from a rapid, high-energy laser pulse initiates the ejection of surface material opposite the surface of laser impingement. Through knowledge of the stress-wave amplitude that causes film separation, the adhesion and interfacial properties of a film-on-substrate system are determined. Some advantages of the laser spallation technique are the noncontact loading, development of large stresses (on the order of GPa), and high strain rates, up to 108/s. The applicability to both relatively thick films, tens of microns, and thin films, tens of nm, make it a unique technique for a wide range of materials and applications. This review combines the available knowledge and experience in laser spallation, as a state-of-the-art measurement tool, in a comprehensive pedagogical publication for the first time. An historical review of adhesion measurement by the laser-induced spallation technique, from its inception in the 1970s through the present day, is provided. An overview of the technique together with the physics governing the laser-induced spallation process, including functions of the absorbing and confining materials, are also discussed. Special attention is given to applications of laser spallation as an adhesion quantification technique in metals, polymers, composites, ceramics, and biological films. A compendium of available experimental parameters is provided that summarizes key laser spallation experiments across these thin-film materials. This review concludes with a future outlook for the laser spallation technique, which approaches its semicentennial anniversary.

Original languageEnglish
Article number030802
JournalApplied Mechanics Reviews
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2021

Bibliographical note

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© 2021 Georg Thieme Verlag. All rights reserved.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mechanical Engineering


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