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Ultra-fast, ultra-intense laser has clean-cut advantage
Date:3/13/2008

COLUMBIA, Mo. Many people equate lasers with a sci-fi battle in a galaxy far, far away or, closer to home, with grocery store scanners and compact disc players. However, an ultra-fast, ultra-intense laser, or UUL, with laser pulse durations of one quadrillionth of a second, otherwise known as one femtosecond, could change cancer treatments, dentistry procedures, precision metal cutting, and joint implant surgeries.

The femtosecond laser has now entered the era of applications. It used to be a novelty, a fantasy, said University of Missouri researcher Robert Tzou, the James C. Dowell professor and chairman of the department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. We are currently targeting the areas of life-science and bio-medicine.

What makes the femtosecond laser different from other lasers is its unique capacity to interact with its target without transferring heat to the area surrounding its mark. The intensity of the power gets the job done while the speed ensures heat does not spread. Results are clean cuts, strong welds and precision destruction of very small targets, such as cancer cells, with no injury to surrounding materials. Tzou hopes that the laser would essentially eliminate the need for harmful chemical therapy used in cancer treatments.

If we have a way to use the lasers to kill cancer cells without even touching the surrounding healthy cells, that is a tremendous benefit to the patient, Tzou said. Basically, the patient leaves the clinic immediately after treatment with no side effects or damage. The high precision and high efficiency of the UUL allows for immediate results.

Practical applications of this type of laser also include, but arent limited to, the ability to create super-clean channels in a silicon chip. That process can allow doctors to analyze blood one cell at a time as cells flow through the channel. The laser can be used in surgery to make more precise incisions that heal faster and ca
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Contact: Bryan E. Jones
jonesbry@missouri.edu
573-882-9144
University of Missouri-Columbia
Source:Eurekalert  

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