Imperial College London
Lasers play a significant role in healthcare where treatments and diagnostics range from eyesight correction, detection of cancer to skin and tissue surgery. Laser procedures use thermal reactions on a “macro”-scale, (treatments of skin, organs, short-pulsed laser tissue evaporation), and also on a “nano” scale (micro surgery, bio-diagnostics of tissue).
Two key factors restrict application of laser-assisted procedures
• limited range of wavelengths, output powers and time formats;
• prohibitive price, environmental instability, low efficiency, large size and heavy maintenance.
As a result, many clinical applications remain shelved on the laboratory level or can be afforded only by the private health sector. Mass surgical procedures as Ear Nose Throat, Benign Prostate Hyperplasia, gynecological, aesthetic and scars treatments can be made doctor office based, and have to be performed in hospitals requiring long rehabilitation.
The fibre technology offers a method for generation of high powers in long optical fibres with efficiencies much higher than in traditional lasers, resulting in compact, table-top, maintenance free, inexpensive medical devices. In collaboration with the world leading fibre laser manufacturer, IPG Photonics, this research program has been devoted to creating treatment-targeted lasers designs and to introducing a range of commercial medical lasers. In particular
- broadband white light generation, from the blue to the infra red in micro-structured fibres for development of fibre sources which will replace bulk lasers in real time bio-imaging of eye, early skin cancer imaging on a cellular level.
- visible and infrared fibre based lasers generating light at all necessary specific absorption wavelengths of tissue and blood for ophthalmic, surgical and skin treatments
- fibre lasers with nano-second level and shorter optical pulse duration variation for high energy all-fibre lasers for eye treatments, tissue ablation and dental treatments.