In vivo manipulation of biological systems with femtosecond laser pulses
Femtosecond laser pulses have the unique ability to deposit energy into a microscopic volume in the bulk of a material that is transparent to the laser wavelength without affecting the surface of the material. Here we review the use of this capability to disrupt specifically targeted structures in live cells and animals with the goal of elucidating function and modeling disease states. Particular attention will be paid to recent work that uses femtosecond laser disruption to injure cerebral blood vessels that lie below the brain surface in a live, anesthetized rat. By varying the degree of injury, the vessel can be made to leak blood plasma, to rupture, or to clot. This technique thus provides a versatile model of cerebrovascular disorders such as small-scale stroke.