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Ultrafast lasers are great tools to make sub-wavelength periodic structures on different materials on indefinitely large areas. By optimization of laser parameters such as influence, pulse duration and polarization, different periodic structures can be generated on various materials such as titanium, stainless steel, copper, slicon, etc. Since the process is completely depending on a feedback mechanism of surface plasmon and laser interference, even stitching the structures is possible that no other lithography technique can offer. Ultrafast laser nanostructuring is a promising tool to cover large areas in industry with nanostructures with extreme uniformity, easily and cost-effectively. Just to name a few applications: mold processing, solar cell surface structuring, hydrophobic/hydrophilic and oleophobic surface generation.
Nonlinear imaging applications such as multi-photon imaging(two-photon imaging, three-photon imaging, etc.), SHG imaging, STED microscopy, STORM, CARS are very useful tools for imaging biological samples and live animals with very high resolution (down to 10s of nanometers) and very low background noise, that no other optical imaging techniques that can not offer. Their usage in life-sciences lead to many breakthroughs and they are extremely useful to understand the mechanism of biological organisms on cellular and subcellular level. The basic tool of nonlinear imaging is a very fast laser that is able to generate picosecond or femtosecond pulses. The most widely used lasers for this purpose are solid state ultrafast lasers that can offer high pulse energies with high tuning capability in wavelength. But their prices are very high that most of the research labs can not afford and also they lack the stability that long term experiments necessitate. Ultrafast fiber lasers are now replacing these lasers with their extreme stability and reliability. Since the imaging is just about focusing to tightest spot, ultrafast fiber lasers are the best option with their very high beam quality that no other laser types can satisfy. Lumos Laser offer a high parameter adjustability range in terms of wavelength (400-1100 nm), pulse energy (from pJs to uJs), pulse duration (from 50 fs to nanoseconds) that nonlinear imaging modalities require.
This application can be seen as the application of micromachining capability of ultrafast lasers to biological tissues, cells and living organisms. Ultrafast lasers are so precise in 3D that you can ablate an organelle inside a cell without damaging the cell membrane. You can cut cytoskeletal filaments or axons of neurons. This precise 3D tool attracts many biological and medical researchers to better understand the underlying mechanism for many biological process such as the network between mitochondria, neuron regeneration, stimulation of neurons, optical caging, cell fusion, etc. Ultrafast fiber lasers that Lumos offers are perfect tools for understanding the underlying mechanism of biological processes since they are highly adjustable in many parameters such as pulse duration, pulse repetition rate, burst energy, intraburst repetition rate and pulse energy as well as options with different wavelengths ranging from UV to NIR. For tissue processing purpose, ultrafast fiber lasers with high repetition rate burst mode gives the best results for ablation rate with very low pulse energies. This makes the burst mode ultrafast fiber lasers as a candidate for next generation ophthalmology lasers.
Many atomic or molecular level processes take place in time durations around picoseconds to femtoseconds. One of the biggest rules of a meaningful scientific measurement is to use a measurement tool that is shorter than the process to be measured. So, the lasers that can generate down to 50 fs is a great tool to understand molecular level processes. Processes such as CARS, THz spectroscopy, time-correlated single photon counting, pump-probe spectroscopy are just a few of the examples for spectroscopy techniques that ultrafast lasers are used in.
Medical Device Manifacturing
Precision cutting and surface structuring capability of ultrafast lasers have started to find usage in several medical fields such as artery stent processing, dental implant structuring and intraocular lens cutting.
Stents made of metals and polymers need to be processed with very high precision on micrometer scale, without any substantial burrs. Another issue is to process stents without carbonization in order to protect the biocompatibility of the stent. Heatless and precise processing of ultrafast lasers make them perfect tools for this purpose. Comparing to other laser types such as Nd:YAG and UV lasers, ultrafast lasers with burst-mode at high repetition rate offers very fast and clean processing of stents.
Dental implants are one of the other areas that the ultrafast lasers can be applied to. Commercial structuring of the dental implants are done via acid etching or sandblasting. While these processes are fast, they necessitate secondary process for cleaning the implants after structuring. Nearly 5-10% of the implants in patient are lost due to the infection caused by acid and sand residues. Direct processing capability of ultrafast laser structuring offers the same structuring capacity without any residues on implants, and hence no losses.
Intraocular lenses necessitate high aspect ratio edge cutting with a very specific shape and precision in order to be long-term durable after being implanted to the patient. Femtosecond lasers are the best options for highly repeatable manufacturing technology to mass-manufacture these implants with high precision and high aspect ratio with minimal burrs.
Glass & Sapphire Processing
Ultrafast lasers usage in glass processing is increasing extremely fast. With the ability to cut 2 mm-thick glass with single pass with a roughness of less than a micron, ultrafast lasers are the most effective way to cut glasses on this precision scale. Unlike the other laser types and glass processing methods, ultrafast lasers do not melt or cause micro-cracks on the material, which makes them a reliable tool to process durable glass that needs high precision processing. In addition to cutting, other applications that ultrafast lasers can offer on glass are: engraving, marking inside glass, 3D processing, waveguide generation, selective laser etching, glass strengthening, hydrophobic/hydrophilic surface generation, etc. Most promising applications; smart phone and flat tv panel cutting, watch glass cutting, solar cell glass processing, QR barcode inside glass, microfluidic chip manufacturing, optical component processing, fiber sensor manufacturing, etc. Ultrafast lasers offer the same processing capability on sapphires with same quality and are finding application areas on many other transparent materials too.
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