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Proceedings Paper

Internal photomechanical fracture of spatially limited absorbers irradiated by short laser pulses
Author(s): Guenther Paltauf; Heinz Schmidt-Kloiber
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Paper Abstract

A photomechanical damage mechanism in abosrbing regions or particles surrounded by a non-abosrbing medium after irradiation with a short laser pulse is investigated experimentally and theoretically. In tissue, such absorbers are for example melanosomes, blood vessels or tatoo pigments. It follows from theoretical considerations that the photoacoustic wave caused by irradiation of a spatially limited volume contains both compressive and tensile stress. Experiments were performed to test whether these tensile stresses cause cavitation in absorbers of spherical or cylindrical shape. High-speed video images of liquid spheres or gelatin cylinders (diameters 200 to 300 micrometer) suspended in oil showed that cavitation occurs at the center of the spheres or on the cylinder axis, respectively, shortly after irradiation with a light pulse (6 ns duration) from an optical parametric oscillator. The cavitation effect was observed at maximum temperatures below and above the boiling point and at ratios of the absorber size on the absorption length larger and smaller than one. The experimental findings are supported by theoretical calculations, from which strong tensile stresses are predicted in the interior of the absorbers, even if the values of acoustic impedance inside and outside the absorbing volume are equal. The reported effect is believed to cause damage to absorbers if the pulse duration is short enough to provide stress confinement, that is if the time an acoustic wave needs to cross the abosrbing region is longer than the pulse duration. For small absorbers such as melanosomes with a size of about 1 micrometer this requires a laser pulse duration in the picosecond regime.

Paper Details

Date Published: 13 May 1998
PDF: 9 pages
Proc. SPIE 3254, Laser-Tissue Interaction IX, (13 May 1998); doi: 10.1117/12.308203
Show Author Affiliations
Guenther Paltauf, Karl-Franzens-Univ. Graz (Austria)
Heinz Schmidt-Kloiber, Karl-Franzens-Univ. Graz (Austria)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 3254:
Laser-Tissue Interaction IX
Steven L. Jacques; Jeff Lotz, Editor(s)

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