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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1995 Mar 14;92(6):1960-4.

The thermoelastic basis of short pulsed laser ablation of biological tissue.

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Laser Biomedical Research Center, George R. Harrison Spectroscopy Laboratory, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge 02139.


Strong evidence that short-pulse laser ablation of biological tissues is a photomechanical process is presented. A full three-dimensional, time-dependent solution to the thermoelastic wave equation is compared to the results of experiments using an interferometric surface monitor to measure thermoelastic expansion. Agreement is excellent for calibrations performed on glass and on acrylic at low laser fluences. For cortical bone, the measurements agree well with the theoretical predictions once optical scattering is included. The theory predicts the presence of the tensile stresses necessary to rupture the tissue during photomechanical ablation. The technique is also used to monitor the ablation event both before and after material is ejected.

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