The increasing use of lasers in biomedical research and clinical praxis leads to the development and application of new, non-invasive, therapeutic, surgical and diagnostic techniques. In laser surgery, the theory of ablation dictates that pulsed mid-infrared laser beams exhibit strong absorption by soft and hard tissues, restricting residual thermal damage to a minimum zone. Therefore, the development of high quality 3 μm lasers is considered to be an alternative for precise laser ablation of tissue. Among them are the high quality oscillator-two stages amplifier lasers developed, which will be described in this article. The beam quality delivered by these lasers to the biological tissue is of great importance in cutting and ablating operations.
As the precision of the ablation is increased, the cutting laser interventions could well move to the microsurgery field. Recently, the combination of a laser scalpel with an optical trapping device, under microscopy control, is becoming increasingly important. Optical manipulation of microscopic particles by focused laser beams, is now widely used as a powerful tool for 'non-contact' micromanipulation of cells and organelles. Several laser sources are employed for trapping and varying laser powers are used in a broad range of applications of optical tweezers. For most of the lasers used, the focal spot of the trapping beam is of the order of a micron. As the trapped objects can vary in size from hundreds of nanometres to hundreds of microns, the technique has recently invaded in to the nanocosomos of genes and molecules. However, the use of optical trapping for quantitative research into biophysical processes requires accurate calculation of the optical forces and torques acting within the trap.
The research and development efforts towards a mid-IR microbeam laser system, the design and realization efforts towards a visible laser trapping system and the first results obtained using a relatively new calibration method to calculate the forces experienced in the optical trap are discussed in detail in the following.