Skip to Main Content
Spontaneous, highly periodic, often permanent surface gratings or "ripples" can develop on the surface of almost any solid or liquid material illuminated by a single laser beam of sufficient intensity, under either pulsed or CW conditions. The grating periods are such that the incident laser beam is diffracted into a tangential wave which skims just along or under the illuminated surface. These spontaneously appearing surface ripples are generated by a runaway growth process analogous to stimulated Brillouin or Raman scattering or small-scale self focusing, but having many of the same properties as Wood's anomalies in diffraction gratings. Hence, it seems appropriate to refer to these spontaneous surface structures as "stimulated Wood's anomalies."