Abstract

Precise laser surgery is possible with laser pulses at wavelengths that are strongly absorbed at the surface of tissue. However, pulses at these wavelengths (far UV, far infrared) are not compatible with fiber-optic transmission, making endoscopic surgical procedures inside the body difficult. We use evanescent optical waves to demonstrate an alternative for confining energy near the tissue surface. Precise, superficial tissue ablation is achieved with evanescent waves generated at a sapphire–tissue interface by a free-electron laser, where the ablation depth may be varied. A new class of precise, controlled laser surgical tools may be achieved in this novel approach for use in endoscopic procedures. Electromagnetic theory governing evanescent-wave tissue ablation is presented.

© 1999 Optical Society of America

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