FLOXIR - Fs Laser-Induced Oxidation/Reduction of Materials: Processes, Applications and Devices

Reference#: P03619

The interaction of femtosecond lasers—which utilize ultrashort pulses of light (lasting one-quadrillionth of a second)—with inorganic and organic materials has created many opportunities and process improvements. Femtosecond lasers interact with matter in a markedly different manner than nanosecond lasers: the shorter pulses of light allow for more precise manipulations and operations while creating negligible fragmentation and degradation of materials. These characteristics have led to an expanding list of femtosecond laser applications, ranging from precise material processing (microfabrication) to biology and medicine. For example, femtosecond laser pulses have been used to perforate the membranes of intact mammalian cells, allowing their efficient transfection with DNA without perturbing the cell structure and function.

The current process for determining the native structure of biomolecules, “biomolecular footprinting,” is accomplished only by use of x-ray source synchrotron facilities, which operate at high cost, or through chemical labeling, which alters biomolecular structure.

A new process invented by researchers at APL utilizes a femtosecond laser and organic material (Bacillus spore) in pure water (protein environment) to demonstrate a way to perform this footprinting at a fraction of the existing time, cost, and footprint.

This capability to rapidly and covalently label biomolecules in water, without additional reagents, by femtosecond laser irradiation can be used for biomolecular footprinting. In addition, a remarkable morphological effect of the femtosecond laser irradiation in water is the complete degradation of extremely refractive cells, such as bacterial spores, evidenced in scanning electron micrographs. After 500 laser pulses, all suspended spores in the irradiated volume are destroyed, which obviously renders them nonviable. Femtosecond laser irradiation of biological material in water has a number of other potential applications, including sterilization in surgery (dental and ophthalmological, for example), cosmetics (skin and tissue bleaching, for procedures such as blemish and tattoo removal), polymerization on the microscale, material modification and labeling, and analysis of biomolecular structure and dynamics.

Ms. H. L. Curran
Phone: (443) 778-7262