Using lasers to vaporize tissue at multiple points simultaneously

September 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: 'Nano-scissors' laser shows precise surgical capability

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

Related Stories

'Nano-scissors' laser shows precise surgical capability

January 7, 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, according ...

A laser for nanomedicine

October 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 ...

Recommended for you

Quantum matter stuck in unrest

July 31, 2015

Using ultracold atoms trapped in light crystals, scientists from the MPQ, LMU, and the Weizmann Institute observe a novel state of matter that never thermalizes.

Robotic insect mimics nature's extreme moves

July 30, 2015

The concept of walking on water might sound supernatural, but in fact it is a quite natural phenomenon. Many small living creatures leverage water's surface tension to maneuver themselves around. One of the most complex maneuvers, ...

New blow for 'supersymmetry' physics theory

July 27, 2015

In a new blow for the futuristic "supersymmetry" theory of the universe's basic anatomy, experts reported fresh evidence Monday of subatomic activity consistent with the mainstream Standard Model of particle physics.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.