BEER-SHEVA, Israel, July 31 -- A solar photonics technique may be an effective, less expensive option to traditional medical lasers, say Israeli researchers.
Solar-powered lasers can kill tissues as well as medical lasers, but at a lower cost, said Jeffrey Gordon, a researcher at Ben-Gurion University in Negev, Israel, who led the study. That could make the lasers affordable for hospitals that cannot buy traditional medical lasers, which concentrate electricity, he said in a Reuters article.
Gordon cautioned that the method only works in sunny climates, and under clear skies.
Writing in the journal Applied Physics Letters, Gordon and colleagues said the solar-powered laser has been able to deliver about 5 watts to 8 watts of energy, similar to the power of some conventional medical lasers.
Gordon said in a statement that if the solar surgery prototype could be mass produced, it has the potential to cost around $1,000 per unit. Traditional medical lasers can cost up to $150,000 apiece.
The sunlight scalpel system, assembled with off-the-shelf parts, uses a collector outside the laboratory window. A mirror gathers sunlight, transfers the rays to a small, flat mirror above the dish and sends the solar energy through a fiber optic cable in the laboratory's floor.
In tests using chicken and rat livers, the researchers said they killed the same amount of tissue as medical lasers can destroy. Details of the liver surgery experiments on mice appear in Thursday's issue of the journal Nature.
The researchers said the solar technique would be especially valuable in the university's medical center, which has not been able to afford a single laser fiber optic surgical system.
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