Silicon films under intense, continuous laser irradiation at λ = 10.6μm develop into spatially inhomogeneous molten states.1,2 These patterns are distinguishable on the basis of symmetry properties, order versus disorder, and the fraction of the surface that is molten. The structures are also significant in that they not only result from a fundamental process (optical heating), but also because their form and symmetry are independent of the explicit boundary conditions. Anderson3 has noted that other nonequilibrium systems seldom, if ever, exhibit such properties.

© 1988 Optical Society of America

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