Silicon layers evaporated on crystalline Si have been crystallized by Q-switched Nd:YAG laser irradiation. A strong correlation was observed between the density of a-Si films and the quality of the epitaxial regrowth from the liquid phase. Dense films crystallized epitaxially in a wide range of laser energy densities. Layers with 20% lower density, as determined by spectroscopic ellipsometry, had higher crystallization thresholds and suffered from severe pitting of the surface. Coalescence of the excess void volume into microbubbles, stabilized by gaseous contaminants, is responsible for the surface degradation.
In polycrystalline films on amorphous insulating substrates laser melting changes the grain distribution. Rapid melting and solidification of small diameter spots creates concentric rings of large crystallites. This characteristic pattern is explained by a simple model, based on the kinetics of crystallization.