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Experimental study of mechanical response of artificial tissue models irradiated with Nd:YAG nanosecond laser pulses

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Nanosecond long laser pulses are used in medical applications where precise tissue ablation with minimal thermal and mechanical collateral damage is required. When a laser pulse is incident on a material, optical energy will be absorbed by a combination of linear and nonlinear absorption according to both: laser light irradiance and material properties. In the case of water or gels, the first results in heat generation and thermoelastic expansion; while the second results in an expanding plasma formation that launches a shock wave and a cavitation/boiling bubble. Plasma formation due to nonlinear absorption of nanosecond laser pulses is originated by a combination of multiphoton ionization and thermionic emission of free electrons, which is enhanced when the material has high linear absorption coefficient. In this work, we present three experimental approaches to study pressure transients originated when 6 ns laser pulses are incident on agar gels and water with varying linear absorption coefficient, using laser radiant exposures above and below threshold for bubble formation: (a) PVDF sensors, (b) Time-resolved shadowgraphy and (c) Time-resolved interferometry. The underlying hypothesis is that pressure transients are composed of the superposition of both: shock wave originated by hot expanding plasma resulting from nonlinear absorption of optical energy and, thermoelastic expansion originated by heat generation due to linear absorption of optical energy. The objective of this study is to carry out a comprehensive experimental analysis of the mechanical effects that result when tissue models are irradiated with nanosecond laser pulses to elucidate the relative contribution of linear and nonlinear absorption to bubble formation. Furthermore, we investigate cavitation bubble formation with temperature increments as low as 3 oC.

© 2011 OSA/SPIE

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