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Nano Surgery

Femtosecond Lasers for Nanosurgery:With pulses of intense laser light a millionth of a billionth of a second long, US researchers are vaporizing tiny structures inside living cells without killing them. The technique could help probe how cells work, and perform super-precise surgery.

Usually when light goes through a piece of glass, nothing happens to either the light nor the glass, i.e. the glass is transparent. With a powerful femtosecond laser pulse, both the laser light and the glass can be changed. When concentrating the laser light using a microscope lens,produce a microscopic explosion inside the glass which leaves behind a minuscule ball-shaped hole. In other conditions, the single color laser pulse is transformed into a short pulse which contains all colors -- a white-light pulse.When a femtosecond laser pulse is tightly focused into a nearly-transparent biological material, energy is deposited by nonlinear absorption only in the focus where laser intensity is high, resulting in disruption of the structure in the focal volume. Because the absorption is confined to the small focal volume, the surrounding material is unaffected, allowing micrometer precision in the disruption of biological tissue. Scientists develop a novel opto-surgical system that integrates high precision femtosecond laser nanosurgery with the advantages of two-photon microscopy for the study of growth processes in nerve regeneration. A two photon microscopy system will allow real time high resolution imaging in-vivo.When they find a desired target, we will amplify the low energy imaging femtosecond laser pulses to a power level suitable to perform nanosurgery. Both techniques are based on the same femtosecond laser. This all-optical imaging and nanosurgery workstation will give us a powerful tool to investigate the processes of nerve regeneration in an unprecedented way. Optical tweezers can be used to perform "surgery" on individual cells, by selectively removing or replacing organelles. The problem is that the high energy lasers used to trap the organelles has the unfortunate side-effect of killing them. So scientists used custom-fabricated holographic filters to generate beams capable of trapping organelles without killing them. Researchers have also used AFM tips to simultaneously image cells, as well as to perform nanosurgery by “scratching” the tip over the substrate. This method does not ablate the subcellularcontents like laser-based nanosurgery.the force applied by the AFM tip for imaging prior to nanosurgery is known to damage certain cell types.As with laser and AFM-based techniques, a targeted approach to cellular surgery enables single organelle deletion or modification as opposed to more traditional biochemical methods (which are ensemble approaches). For any cellularsurgical technique, it is imperative to be able to manipulate nanoscale structures with nanometer precision.

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