Lasers in medicine and biotechnology open up a variety of diagnostic and therapeutic applications. In particular, since laser-based optical measuring and processing processes do not need to touch the object, they are ideal tools for sterile conditions and in highly selective applications. While ophthalmic laser processes such as LASIK have largely become established in the market, microsurgical applications can still unlock great potential for new applications. In this context, Fraunhofer ILT is developing novel measurement methods based on optical coherence tomography (OCT), with which surgical procedures can be performed at micrometer precision.
In addition to the diagnostic and laser-based therapeutic methods, the field of tissue engineering is becoming increasingly important thanks to advances in laser technology. In this field, Fraunhofer ILT is looking at all aspects of tissue engineering – from material development to the production of biocompatible structures and their production with the laser all the way to the appropriate process measurement technology. This also includes the handling of biological material from classical cell lines to primary material. Suitable laboratories with S1 and, if necessary, S2 certification are available for this purpose. Moreover, the demand for innovative solutions is growing in implant technology. Based on patient-specific data, individual dental prostheses, artificial hip joints and bone substitutes for tumor treatments can be produced by laser-assisted 3D printing.
As increasingly personalized medicine continues to develop, new challenges in diagnostics and analytics emerge. Light as a non-contact instrument offers great advantages, both in the manufacture of appropriate instruments and in diagnostics itself. For the former, Fraunhofer ILT is developing various lab-on-a-chip solutions with which, for example, fast multiplex diagnostics are possible.