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Profound Insights into the Building Blocks of Life

March 4, 2015

Lasers in Biophotonics and Medical Engineering

Munich. The Nobel Prize for Göttingen-based researcher Stefan Hell and his STED microscopy was a milestone in the microscopic exploration of the nanoworld. Lasers, switchable fluorescent markers and imaging techniques provide profound insights into living cells. Lasers are already in the process of revolutionizing medical research, diagnostics and therapy. Biophotonics and medical engineering will again be center stage at the LASER World of PHOTONICS from 22-25 June at the Messe München site.

Not one but two newly anointed Nobel Prize winners will be speaking at the World of Photonics Congress 2015: the lectures delivered by professors Stefan Hell and Eric Betzig deal with Super-Resolved Fluorescence Microscopy. The innovative microscopic procedure provides researchers with unprecedented insights into the nano building blocks of life. Using switchable fluorescent markers, samples can be successively illuminated in nanometer increments, scanned and assembled into accurate images by software. Biomedical practitioners hope to harness nano microscopy to decipher the molecular characteristics of illnesses such as cancer, AIDS, Alzheimer's, and many others besides, to identify points of attack for more effective therapies.

Microscopy and spectroscopy are helping to explain illnesses
The option of observing living cells with the intelligent use of light in resolutions of only a few nanometers is taking biophotonics into new realms. Developers are using ever new techniques, from two-photon microscopy and laser scanning tomography via the combination of optical microscopy with Raman spectroscopy or of fluorescence microscopes with extremely high temporal and spatial resolution cameras to conquer worlds previously inaccessible to the human eye. In each case the key to this is powerful beam sources ranging from extremely shortwave ultraviolet to deep into the infrared spectrum. Laser developers are working hand-in-hand with optics, semiconductor and positioning system developers as well as with medical engineering companies and research institutes. The LASER World of PHOTONICS offers a platform for the latest developments.

Biophotonics and medical engineering in Hall B3
The exhibition focus in Hall B3, numerous Application Panels and the European Conferences on Biomedical Optics taking place in parallel with the trade fair make the leading trade fair a showcase for the biophotonics sector, which latterly posted a global annual market volume of 65 billion euros. The laser is and remains a driving force behind innovation in medical engineering, benefiting patients and society alike.

One example is the treatment of patients with cataracts (gray star), in which femtosecond lasers play a key role. They make accurate incisions only 1.5 mm in length and shred the cloudy lens in the eye before it is extracted by suction through the minimal aperture and replaced by an artificial lens. Such an outpatient lens replacement takes only 20 minutes. In the scalpel era several days of hospitalization were the norm.

Lasers optimize medical diagnostics and therapy
Many minimally invasive operations rely on fiber lasers. Laser probes introduced through micro-incisions are used nowadays for removing varicose veins, stomach ulcers and fatty pads. Wherever possible, surgeons, dentists and dermatologists, urologists as well as gynecologists use low impact light treatment, which is comfortable for patients, leaves no scars and rarely results in bleeding and infections. The key to this is increasingly better designed fiber optic cables for the various procedures. Miniaturization, a growing range of fiber materials and optical probe tips ensure the required light propagation and intensity in each case. Applications range from the use of lasers to deliver a targeted attack on tumors, which are first enriched with light-activatable substances.

Jena researchers are working on making fiber lasers usable for diagnostics as well. The goal is spectroscopic tissue analyses directly within the body instead of the taking of tissue samples with waiting times for laboratory findings. The Jena researchers now want to resolve the issue of which fibers and light wavelengths are suitable for which tissues in the digestive tract, blood vessels and organs. Visitors to the LASER World of PHOTONICS can inquire about the status of this minimally invasive tissue spectroscopy in Hall B3 on the biophotonics research joint stand.

3D printing: yesterday still in the research stage—today already in use
Generative manufacturing is now increasingly used to make implants, such as, the electrodes for cochlear implants for the deaf, metallic substructures for dental crowns or artificial joints, to name just a few applications. Lasers use metal powder to build up the customized implants layer by layer in accordance with CAD blueprints. Patient body scans are often used in the process as a template. The all-digital manufacturing process cuts costs and ensures a perfect fit of the implants and prosthetics. That means each implant is a one-off. The LASER World of PHOTONICS and the World of Photonics Congress being staged in Munich in June will be showcasing the full range of what lasers are capable of in this arena.

Press contact
Ivanka Stefanova-Achter
Trade Fair PR Contact – Messe München GmbH
Phone: +49 89 949 21471

Pictures for this press release

  • JenLas® 8W disk laser
    To improve ease of integration, Jenoptik's is now also available with OEM industrial electronics or in a compact variant that has undergone medical technical testing in accordance with EN 60601. The frequency-doubled, diode-pumped disk laser boasts high beam quality and a wavelength of 532 nanometers. In addition to its uprated performance, the OEM design and compact size make for easy integration with various customer laser treatment systems as well as miniaturization of the terminal devices.
    The JenLas® is based on Jenoptik's tried and tested JenLas® D2 technology. The laser is used as a beam source especially in medical engineering, first and foremost in oph-thalmology for retinal photocoagulation, but also in laser endoscopy and dermatology. (Photo: Jenoptik)

  • JenLas® femto femtosecond laser 10
    Based on reliable diode-pumped disk laser technology, the JenLas® femto 10 delivers per-fect beam qualities at a power output of 10 Watt and pulse energies of up to 50 microjoules The femtosecond laser is extremely flexible in use: it features an adjustable pulse repetition frequency, a fast beam switcher for pulse picking and attenuation and an activatable fre-quency doubling from 1030 to 515 nanometers. The femtosecond laser for micro material processing offers unsurpassed processing qualities combined with minimal heat influence and up to four times higher material removal rates compared with picosecond lasers of equal power. It was developed for exacting industrial applications and continuous 24/7 use. For almost all materials the JenLas® femto 10's ultrashort pulses in the 400 to 800 femtosecond range permits non-thermal ablation, namely the production of extremely small workpiece and surface structures without fusing and harmful thermal influence. Examples of products for cutting and drilling are micro medical implants such as stents made of nitinol, stainless steel or (bio) polymers. The laser also lends itself to thin-layer erosion or the structuring of surfaces, for example in the semiconductor industry or in medical engineering. (Photo: Jenoptik)

  • Researchers at the Laser Zentrum Hannover (LZH) intend to use additive manufacturing in order to tailor microactors for cochlea implants to the cochlea of the hearing impairment suf-ferer. Laser Additive Manufacturing (LAM) is also used here to produce micrometer-sized cochlea replicas which surgeons used to practice inserting the implants into the cochlea. This calls for care to avoid damaging the remaining sensory cells. The LZH is collaborating with Hanover Medical School on implants which change shape during the operation in response to a change in temperature, which should facilitate insertion considerably. (Photo: Laser Zentrum Hannover)

  • A photonic crystal fiber into which femtosecond pulses from an infrared laser are injected at the Laser Zentrum Hannover. In medical use, such fibers are increasingly enabling minimally invasive procedures where previously complex surgeries were required. In state-funded re-search projects, scientists are looking for ways of using optical fibers during surgical inter-ventions to perform in vivo spectroscopic tissue analyses in the body. (Photo: Laser Zentrum Hannover)

  • A photonic crystal fiber into which femtosecond pulses from an infrared laser are injected at the Laser Zentrum Hannover. In medical use, such fibers are increasingly enabling minimally invasive procedures where previously complex surgeries were required. In state-funded re-search projects, scientists are looking for ways of using optical fibers during surgical inter-ventions to perform in vivo spectroscopic tissue analyses in the body. (Photo: Laser Zentrum Hannover)

  • Parallelized RESOLFT nanoscopy enables the imaging of living cells within seconds. The image depicts the structural protein keratin in cancer cells. It is based on 144 individual im-ages; the total recording time is of the magnitude of a second. Scale: 10 µm. (Photo: © Andriy Chmyrov, Stefan W. Hell, Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chem-istry)

  • Stefan W. Hell
    (Photo: © Bernd Schuller, Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry)

  • The new compact ZEISS LSM 800 with Airyscan is a confocal laser scanning microscope for high-end imaging in biomedical research. With its highly sensitive GaAsP detector technology and high-speed linear scanning it offers superior image quality even with in vivo cell inves-tigations. The Airyscan module, available as an option, delivers 1.7-times higher-resolution and greater sensitivity than conventional confocal microscopes. Thanks to higher scan speeds, even rapid movements by marked proteins can be resolved. Events can be captured at up to 8 images per second with an image size of 512 x 512 pixels. (Photo: Zeiss)

  • Comparison between confocal and Airyscan image. HeLa cells, red: Mitochondrial mem-brane, green: Microtubuli, magenta: Actin filaments; captured with the LSM 800. The sample was provided by A. Seitz, EPFL, Lausanne, Switzerland. (Photo: Zeiss)