Low power nanosecond laser irradiation has potential applications in surface processing of metallic glasses (MGs). However, the response of MGs to a relatively low power intensity (1011 W/m2) has not been investigated. In this study, surface microstructures and characteristics of Zr-based MG after low power nanosecond laser irradiation were studied. Micro-cracks with depth in nanoscale and width in microscale were observed on the irradiated MG surface. The effects of laser parameters on the formation and evolution of micro-cracks were further investigated, and surface characteristics were characterized by using X-ray diffraction (XRD) and energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDS). The results showed that under the peak laser power intensity of 2.3 × 1011 W/m2, when increasing the scanning speed from 1 to 5 mm/s, the maximum width of micro-cracks reduced from 3 μm to be less than 1 μm; further increasing to 10 mm/s, no micro-cracks appeared. When increasing the laser power intensity, the micro-groove structure would be formed with pileup around it and line cracks, open cracks and laser pulse tracks on it. During multi-line laser scanning, the pulse overlap rate also affected the formation and distribution of micro-cracks. At last, the formation mechanism of micro-cracks was discussed. These results would be meaningful for understanding the laser-MG interaction as well as guiding the selection of laser parameters for various applications.
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