How does an excimer laser work

What is an excimer laser?

Last updated on January 12, 2021 by

A Excimer laser is a very fine laser beam that can be used to make very precise cuts or drill ultra-fine holes. The comparison of an excimer laser to a fine surgical knife (scalpel) is something like between a knife and an ax. Areas of application for excimer lasers are, for example, material processing or as surgical equipment. Especially for eye operations that require ultra-precise work.

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Explanation of terms / definition of excimer laser

The term "Excimer"Is a made-up word that is composed of two English-language terms:

  • excited means stimulated,
  • dimer is a laser-active medium, i.e. a laser beam that consists of two molecules.

Since nowadays noble gas halogens are mostly used for this ultra-fine laser beam, the name should be correct Exciplex laser read ("Excited" and “Complex”), but nowadays one usually speaks of an excimer laser.

How excimer laser works

Excimer lasers are used in ophthalmology to cut or ablate human tissue. A pulsating laser radiation is used for this (frequencies between 100 and 200 Hz). The surrounding tissue is not heated as a result - the subsequent wound healing process is much easier and practically pain-free. In the Lasik procedure, the cornea of ​​the eye is removed in order to correct a natural refractive error. Precise machining is particularly important here. See:

Excimer lasers are therefore very attractive for laser eye surgery and are increasingly replacing the classic “hot cut methods”. The following picture shows a modern excimer laser for the Lasik procedure:

You can see the surgical microscope in the center. Of course, the laser works so fine that you can only examine the result with a reflected light microscope.

Historical development of the excimer laser

The first excimer laser was made in 1970 by Nikolai Bassow, V. A. Danilychew and Yu. M. Popow at the P.N. Lebedew Physics Institute in Moscow. They used the xenon dimer Xe2 and an electron beam for excitation. The first commercial excimer laser was built by Lambda Physik in 1977.

What is Femto?

The term Femto comes from physics and designates a Time unit. A femtosecond is a unit of time. Written out it looks like this: 0.000 000 000 000 001 seconds.

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