We fabricated periodic ripple structures on the surface of a lithium niobate crystal by irradiation with femtosecond laser pulses and observed the evolution of these structures under irradiation with successive laser pulses. After just a few laser pulses we observed nanorod-shaped craters, aligned with each other but randomly distributed over the surface. The nanocraters are caused by nanoablation at defects in the crystal surface. With increasing pulse number, side-lobed nanocraters appear and light scattered from the initial nanorod-shaped craters at the crystal surface interferes with the incident light, causing the formation of periodic structures.
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