Using lasers to vaporize tissue at multiple points simultaneously

Sep 13, 2011
Time-lapse microscopy of a fruit fly epithelium in which a single cell is isolated from the remainder of the cell sheet using a single holographically-shaped laser pulse. Progression in time is color-coded from blue to red to white. Credit: Aroshan K. Jayasinghe.

Researchers at Vanderbilt University have developed a new technique that uses a single UV laser pulse to zap away biological tissue at multiple points simultaneously, a method that could help scientists study the mechanical forces at work as organisms grow and change shape.

UV lasers are a commonly-used tool for cutting into tissue, but the lasers usually make incisions by vaporizing one point at a time in a series of steps. If the initial laser pulse cuts into cells under tension, the tissue could spring back from the . This makes precise tasks, such as cutting around a single cell, difficult. The Vanderbilt team found a way around this problem by using a computer-controlled hologram to shape the phase profile of the UV pulse –basically applying a patterned delay onto different parts of the beam. When the pulse then passed through a lens, the altered phase profile yielded an interference pattern with bright spots at any user-desired pattern of points. Using this method, which can vaporize up to 30 points simultaneously, the researchers successfully isolated a single cell on a developing fruit fly embryo and then observed how the cell relaxed into a shape dictated solely by internal forces.

Time-lapse microscopy of a fruit fly epithelium in which a single cell is isolated from the remainder of the cell sheet using a single holographically-shaped laser pulse. The cell-to-be-isolated is marked with an asterisk in the first frame. Subsequent frames are at 6 s and 70 s after ablation. Credit: Aroshan K. Jayasinghe

The technique, described in the September issue of the Optical Society's (OSA) open-access journal Biomedical Optics Express, could be applied to other model , such as frogs or zebra fish, to help answer outstanding questions in developmental biology. This knowledge may in turn guide bioengineers searching for ways to grow designer tissue.

Explore further: The first direct-diode laser bright enough to cut and weld metal

More information: "Holographic UV laser microsurgery," Jayasinghe et al., Biomedical Optics Express, Vol. 2, Issue 9, pp. 2590-2599. www.opticsinfobase.org/boe/abs… cfm?uri=boe-2-9-2590

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

A laser for nanomedicine

Oct 28, 2005

A modified femtosecond laser can correct poor eyesight and identify malignant melanomas. In addition, it represents an effective tool for laser nanomedicine: It can be used for example to drill nanoholes in cellular membranes ...

'Nano-scissors' laser shows precise surgical capability

Jan 07, 2005

An ultra-short pulse laser that can perform extremely precise surgery on tiny roundworms may be the key to understanding nerve regeneration and is an important step toward treatment of human neurological disease, ...

Recommended for you

'Comb on a chip' powers new atomic clock design

Jul 22, 2014

Researchers from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and California Institute of Technology (Caltech) have demonstrated a new design for an atomic clock that is based on a chip-scale ...

Creating optical cables out of thin air

Jul 22, 2014

Imagine being able to instantaneously run an optical cable or fiber to any point on earth, or even into space. That's what Howard Milchberg, professor of physics and electrical and computer engineering at ...

New material puts a twist in light

Jul 18, 2014

Scientists at The Australian National University (ANU) have uncovered the secret to twisting light at will. It is the latest step in the development of photonics, the faster, more compact and less carbon-hungry ...

User comments : 0