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Ultra-short Pulse Laser Surgery

Ablation of biological materials by ultra-short pulsed laser light can reduce invasiveness and improve accuracy, specificity, and safety compared to current surgical tools and thus has the potential of becoming an indispensable method in the hands of surgeons for procedures like vascular occlusion treatment, surgery, or bone modification.  The fundamentals of laser interaction with organic and inorganic targets have been investigated for the past forty-five years for applications as diverse as material processing and surgical tissue ablation.  

One significant challenge to tissue processing with laser light is the need to maximize ablation efficiency while minimizing collateral damage to the adjacent material.  Research shows that ultra-short laser pulses with a duration of less than ~1 ps (picosecond) are ideal for this application, due to the fact that the detailed ablation mechanism is different when compared to longer pulses, resulting in greatly reduced thermal and shock wave damage.  

CBST has developed the USP technology suited for this application, as well as a patented plasma spectrometer monitor that discriminates between different types of tissue such as calcium-rich bone and soft tissue.  This monitor could be used to shut down the laser during back surgery if nerve tissue begins to be ablated. 

Project PI: Sebastian Wachsmann-Hogiu, PhD
eFellow: Ruby Gill, MS
LLNL partners: Chris Barty, PhD, Michael Messerly, PhD, Matthew Prantil, PhD