The objective of this combined experimental and theoretical research is to study the dynamics and mechanisms of nanoparticle interaction with ultrashort laser pulses and related modifications of substrate surface. For the experimental effort, metal (gold), dielectric (SiO2) and dielectric with metal coating (about 30 nm thick) spherical nanoparticles deposited on glass substrate are utilized. Size of the particles varies from 20 to 200 nm. Density of the particles varies from low (mean inter-particle distance 100 nm) to high (mean inter-particle distance less than 1 nm). The nanoparticle assemblies and the corresponding empty substrate surfaces are irradiated with single 130-fs laser pulses at wavelength 775 nm and different levels of laser fluence. Large diameter of laser spot (0.5-2 mm) provides gradient variations of laser intensity over the spot and allows observing different laser-nanoparticle interactions. The interactions vary from total removal of the nanoparticles in the center of laser spot to gentle modification of their size and shape and totally non-destructive interaction. The removed particles frequently form specific sub-micrometer-size pits on the substrate surface at their locations. The experimental effort is supported by simulations of the nanoparticle interactions with high-intensity ultrashort laser pulse. The simulation employs specific modification of the molecular dynamics approach applied to model the processes of non-thermal particle ablation following laser-induced electron emission. This technique delivers various characteristics of the ablation plume from a single nanoparticle including energy and speed distribution of emitted ions, variations of particle size and overall dynamics of its ablation. The considered geometry includes single isolated particle as well a single particle on a flat substrate that corresponds to the experimental conditions. The simulations confirm existence of the different regimes of laser-nanoparticle interactions depending on laser intensity and wavelength. In particular, implantation of ions departing from the nanoparticles towards the substrate is predicted.© (2010) COPYRIGHT SPIE--The International Society for Optical Engineering. Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.