Ultrafast lasers have become a fixture in many biomedical, industrial, telecommunications, and defense applications in recent years. These sources are capable of generating extremely high peak power that can cause laser-induced tissue breakdown through the formation of a plasma upon exposure. Despite the increasing prevalence of such lasers, current safety standards (ANSI Z136.1-2014) do not include maximum permissible exposure (MPE) values for the cornea with pulse durations less than one nanosecond. This study was designed to measure damage thresholds in corneal tissue phantoms in the near-infrared and mid-infrared to identify the wavelength dependence of laser damage thresholds from 1200-2500 nm. A high-energy regenerative amplifier and optical parametric amplifier outputting ~100 femtosecond pulses with pulse energies up to 2 mJ were used to perform exposures and determine damage thresholds in transparent collagen gel tissue phantoms. Three-dimensional imaging, primarily optical coherence tomography, was used to evaluate tissue phantoms following exposure to determine ablation characteristics at the surface and within the bulk material. The determination of laser damage thresholds in the near-IR and mid-IR for ultrafast lasers will help to guide safety standards and establish the appropriate MPE levels for exposure sensitive ocular tissue such as the cornea. These data will help promote the safe use of ultrafast lasers for a wide range of applications.
Adam R. Boretsky, Joseph E. Clary, Gary D. Noojin, and Benjamin A. Rockwell, "Infrared laser damage thresholds in corneal tissue phantoms using femtosecond laser pulses," Proc. SPIE 10492, Optical Interactions with Tissue and Cells XXIX, 1049204 (Presented at SPIE BiOS: January 29, 2018; Published: 13 February 2018); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2290772.
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