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Femtosecond laser has dentistry applications
Updated: 3/20/2008 2:00:14 PM

A group of researchers at the University of Missouri has been developing what they call the UUL or ultra-fast, ultra-intense laser with possible uses in medical fields including dentistry, cancer treatments and joint implant surgeries.

The devices have a laser pulse that lasts one quadrillionth of a second, also called a femtosecond, which enables the laser to focus its point on its target at such a precise speed and level of efficiency that surrounding areas are not affected.

In dentistry, the laser could treat tooth decay without compromising the tooth's structure and provide a much more efficient and harmless method of treatment for patients.

According to Robert Tzou, James C. Dowell professor and chairman of the institution's department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, the laser is capable of destroying targets as small as cancer cells without injury to surrounding cells, with special relevance to cancer treatment patients who could hopefully experience no side effects or down time after treatment.

Other applications for the laser include the manufacture of silicon chips with super clean channels and for military uses such as the installation of high energy lasers in gun ships.

"If we have a way to use the lasers to kill cancer cells without even touching the surrounding healthy cells, that is a tremendous benefit to the patient," Mr. Tzou explained.


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