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Lasers & Sources

Video interview: James Wynne describes the discovery of surgical applications of the excimer laser

A turkey carcass played a key role in discovering the potential of the argon-fluoride excimer laser at 193 microns and its eventual widespread application in eye surgery.

4 April 2011, SPIE Newsroom. DOI: 10.1117/2.3201104.02

James Wynne joined IBM's Zurich Research Laboratory in 1969 and IBM's T.J. Watson Research Center in New York in 1971. He was the manager of the laser physics and chemistry group when his team discovered the use of the excimer laser for surgery. Wynne has written numerous articles in scientific journals, holds patents in laser dentistry and laser dermatology and has received numerous awards, including the 2010 Rank Prize for Optoelectronics with his IBM colleagues, Rangaswamy Srinivasan and Samuel Blum.

Like his partners in discovering excimer laser surgery, Wynne is a member of the National Inventors Hall of Fame. Wynne is currently working on a new application of the excimer laser to remove necrotic lesions of the skin, including char from third degree burns, decubitus, stasis and neuropathic ulcers. This application will result in a "smart scalpel," producing no collateral damage to the viable tissue underlying the necrotic tissue.