Boffins predict that ultra-fast, ultra-intense lasers, or UULs, could change cancer treatments, dentistry procedures, precision metal cutting, and joint implant surgeries.
The devices have laser pulse durations of one quadrillionth of a second, otherwise known as one femtosecond, explained University of Missouri researcher Robert Tzou, the James C. Dowell professor and chairman of the institution's department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering.
"The femtosecond laser has now entered the era of applications. It used to be a novelty, a fantasy," said Tzou.
"We are currently targeting the areas of life-science and bio-medicine."
According to Tzou, 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."
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