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Curr Opin Biotechnol. 2009 Feb;20(1):90-9. doi: 10.1016/j.copbio.2009.02.003. Epub 2009 Mar 5.

Plasma-mediated ablation: an optical tool for submicrometer surgery on neuronal and vascular systems.

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  • 1Department of Physics, University of California at San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92093-0374, USA.


Plasma-mediated ablation makes use of high energy laser pulses to ionize molecules within the first few femtoseconds of the pulse. This process leads to a submicrometer-sized bubble of plasma that can ablate tissue with negligible heat transfer and collateral damage to neighboring tissue. We review the physics of plasma-mediated ablation and its use as a tool to generate targeted insults at the subcellular level to neurons and blood vessels deep within nervous tissue. Illustrative examples from axon regeneration and microvascular research highlight the utility of this tool. We further discuss the use of ablation as an integral part of automated histology.

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