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Direct picosecond laser measurements of the critical fluence for melting have been performed for the first time, giving unambiguously consistent differences in the energy required for surface melting of relaxed and unrelaxed amorphous silicon. The different optical coupling cannot account for this variation which can only be explained in term of different melting temperatures. Heating of unrelaxed amorphous silicon samples at temperatures close to the melting point may result in relaxation of the material even when the treatment occurs in the nanosecond time scale. However nanosecond UV irradiation of relaxed and unrelaxed amorphous silicon samples have provided informations on the specific heat of the two amorphous states. The melting temperature of unrelaxed amorphous silicon has been derived independently via both picosecond data and via free energy calculations.
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