Originally Published MPMN
NEED TO KNOW
‘Perfect Mirror’ May Revolutionize Minimally Invasive Laser Surgical Procedures
OmniGuide’s omnidirectional mirror and fiber-optic scalpel are used to perform minimally invasive surgery.
Patients with brain tumors or intestinal lesions may no longer be required to go under the knife. Instead, they may benefit from a breakthrough reflector technology that was originally designed for military applications such as deflecting enemy laser beams.
Developed for the U.S. Department of Defense by Yoel Fink, cofounder and CEO of OmniGuide Inc.
(Cambridge, MA; www.omni-guide.com
), the all-dielectric omnidirectional dielectric mirror consists of multilayer films and has a surface that reflects light of all wavelengths and from all angles. These attributes enable surgeons to perform procedures on hard-to-reach tissues by manipulating and bending laser beams.
“The omnireflector enables light to be guided through structure,” explains Fink, associate professor in the materials science and engineering department at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
(MIT; Cambridge, MA; www.mit.edu
). The omnireflector’s photonic bandgap fibers are structure-based transmitters, he continues. “Within each fiber, more than 40 microscopic layers of alternating glass and polymer form a reflective system known as a Bragg diffraction grating. The wavelength of light transmitted by this structure is a function of the thickness of the glass and polymer bilayers.”
Fink remarks that structure, unlike material properties, can be varied. Hence, omnidirectional fibers can be scaled to channel different wavelengths of light. “This approach represents a new paradigm in the field of light transmission and resolves all of the limitations inherent in conventional fiber optics,” notes Fink. The ability to manufacture glass and polymer multilayers in a scalable manner has enabled the design of fibers that deliver different power levels and have different bending tolerances, qualities that help enable the technology to target specific indications and applications.
To exploit the mirror’s ability to bend laser beams, OmniGuide has developed a flexible fiber-optic scalpel that can deliver CO2 laser light, enabling tissue cutting and ablation while minimizing collateral tissue damage. Used by neurosurgeons, ENT specialists, and otologists, the flexible laser may find application in endovascular and natural orifice transluminal endoscopic surgery, according to Fink.
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