The development of lasers operating at ultraviolet wavelengths has provided mankind with a new set of unique tools. With characteristics which combine the precision to remove micrometer-thick layers of corneal tissue for the correction of refractive errors in the human eye and the ability to vaporize even the most refractory of materials, UV lasers have immediately developed into indispensable tools in many areas of materials science. The remarkable ability of high power pulsed excimer laser radiation to vaporize complex materials such as high temperature superconductors, while maintaining stoichiometry in thin films deposited from this vaporized material, offers many exciting opportunities in the creation of superconducting thin films and thin film devices. Similar unique capabilities are available in the deposition, doping and modification of semiconductors using UV laser radiation.
As a result of these and other applications, many of which can be immediately adopted by industry, UV lasers have a secure future in the field of materials science. Their implementation is limited only by our creativity in finding new applications and ways to use these new tools.
A fascinating aspect of the development of these applications involves the many fundamental questions that arise concerning the manner in which intense UV laser radiation interacts with matter. This is an area of great scientific interest and is truly interdisciplinary in nature so that answers to these questions will only come from both theoretical and experimental studies extending over a diverse range of disciplines.