A study on the effect of ultrashort pulsed laser texturing on the microstructure and properties of metastable S phase layer formed on AISI 316L surfaces

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Austenitic stainless steels (ASS) are an important material within the food and medical industries. However, their current limitations of poor wear resistance and susceptibility to bacterial colonisation have limited further uptake. Low-temperature plasma nitriding can address the poor durability of the ASS alloys by forming the S phase, therefore, providing combined improvement in hardness, wear resistance and corrosion resistance. Additionally, pulsed laser texturing can also be used to introduce functional antibacterial textures. However, due to the thermal nature of laser patterning and the thermodynamic metastability of the S phase, almost no research has been conducted thus far on combining the technologies.

Therefore, this study for the first time has investigated the response of S phase treated surfaces to ultrashort (nano and femtosecond) laser texturing. The results have shown that, both theoretically and in practice, laser pulses within the nanosecond regime led to the damage of the surface, decomposition of the metastable S phase and loss of the corrosion resistance. In contrast, no change of the S phase surface layer could be detected following femtosecond laser texturing. Hence, demonstrating the feasibility of texturing S phase surfaces using femtosecond pulsed lasers, thus paving the way towards long-lasting multi functional antibacterial stainless steel surfaces.


Original languageEnglish
Article number145557
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalApplied Surface Science
Early online date30 Jan 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2020


  • AISI 316L, active-screen plasma, low-temperature nitriding, S phase, pulsed laser texturing, thermal stability