Abstract

Near-infrared laser pulses of a compact 80-MHz femtosecond laser source at 800  nm, a mean power of 15–100  mW, 170-fs pulse width, and millisecond beam dwell times at the target have been used for multiphoton-mediated nanoprocessing of human chromosomes. By focusing of the laser beam with high-numerical-aperture objectives of a scanning microscope to diffraction-limited spots and with light intensities of terawatts per cubic centimeter, precise submicrometer holes and cuts in human chromosomes have been processed by single-point exposure and line scans. A minimum FWHM cut size of 100 nm during a partial dissection of chromosome  1, which is below the diffraction-limited spot size, and a minimum material removal of 0.003 μm3 were determined by a scanning-force microscope. The plasma-induced ablated material corresponds to 1/400 of the chromosome  1 volume and to 65×103 base pairs of chromosomal DNA. A complete dissection could be performed with FWHM cut sizes below 200  nm. High-repetition-frequency femtosecond lasers at low mean power in combination with high-numerical-aperture focusing optics appear therefore as appropriate noncontact tools for nanoprocessing of bulk and (or) surfaces of transparent materials such as chromosomes. In particular, the noninvasive inactivation of certain genomic regions on single chromosomes within living cells becomes possible.

© 2001 Optical Society of America

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