Fiber-chirped pulse amplification (FCPA) technology has been revolutionary in producing ultrashort pulsed lasers, which have since been used for material processing concepts in a wide range of market sectors. With a unique combination of ultrafast high power laser pulses with rapid repetition rates, FCPA lasers are increasingly at the forefront of advanced material processing in some of the most complex industries on earth. For example: FCPA technology is continuously proving beneficial in biomedical engineering and research, enabling challenging biomedical applications from medical device manufacturing to tissue modification and microsurgery.
Lasers have been empowering surgeons since 1963 when a solid-state laser, made using a synthetic ruby crystal, was first used to ablate atherosclerotic plaques from cardiovascular tissues. This experimental setup led to a twenty-year period of biomedical research into the potential implementation of solid-state lasers in clinical and surgical settings. Fiber lasers are now building on early successes in cosmetic, eye, and general surgery to accommodate next-generation levels of performance in biomedical applications.
In this blog post, IMRA will briefly introduce two of the most promising biomedical applications of FCPA lasers.
Medical Device Manufacturing with FCPA Technology
Chief among the many benefits of FCPA lasers for surgical applications is the technology’s minimal level of collateral damage to adjacent tissue. This is absolutely critical in the context of medical devices where even the minutest of variations could have an impact on the health and wellbeing of the patient. An FCPA laser avoids peripherally modifying workpieces beyond a finely-focused spot by compressing the lengths of laser pulses to the femtosecond (10-15 seconds) region, which in turn drives their peak power to the megawatt (MW) scale. This effectively eliminates the generation of a heat-affected zone (HAZ), as well as greatly minimizing the generation of debris. Uniformity and minimal HAZ are guaranteed to facilitate the most meticulous level of engineering in biomedical applications.
FCPA Lasers for Microsurgery & Tissue Modification
Another key benefit of FCPA lasers in biomedical applications comes as a consequence of the use of optical fiber gain media and fiber amplification to produce a compact laser system. This enables practical delivery of high-peak-power laser light through a simplified delivery module within a larger instrument. The outstanding precision and reliability of the resulting process offer a high-performance alternative to surgical tools like microkeratomes; critical for making an incision in a patient’s cornea prior to laser eye surgery.
Consequently, FCPA lasers are increasingly used in high-precision non-traumatic surgeries such as laser-assisted in situ keratomileuses (LASIK). With the exceptional ability to discriminate between different interfaces, FCPA technology can be used to treat a range of optical conditions, including myopia, hyperopia, and astigmatism. Fiber-based femtosecond lasers are also incredibly stable, ensuring long service with multiple use-cycles in cost critical applications.
IMRA: Enabling New Biomedical Applications
IMRA is a world leader in the development and supply of FCPA lasers for biomedical applications, enabling new levels of precision in delicate laser processing and development. If you would like to learn more about FCPA technology, we recommend reading our previous blog post: A Guide to Femtosecond Lasers. Or, if you have any specific questions about products for specific biomedical applications, simply contact a member of the IMRA team today.