In this study, we theoretically investigate the response of a germanium thin film under femtosecond pulsed laser irradiation. Electron and lattice temperatures, as well as material-specific optical properties such as dielectric function and reflectivity, were calculated during the irradiation using an extended two-temperature model coupled with the carrier density rate equation and the Drude model. Melting and ablation fluence thresholds were also predicted, resulting in 0.14 J cm-2 and 0.35 J cm-2, respectively. An ultrafast change in both optical and thermal properties was detected upon laser irradiation. Results also indicate that thermal melting occurs after germanium takes on a metallic character during irradiation, and that the impact ionization process may have a critical role in the laser-induced thermal effect. Therefore, we suggest that the origin of the thermal modification of germanium surface under femtosecond laser irradiation is mostly due the impact ionization process and that its effect becomes more important when increasing the laser fluence.
Keywords: femtosecond laser; germanium thin films; impact ionization; two-temperature model.