Optical nerve stimulation and bone drilling are two applications that have been studied in different areas. In these applications water is the most important component. Near Infrared and infrared wavelengths have high absorption in water.
It has been observed that laser assisted bone cutting causes less damage to the tissue than mechanical drilling. We therefore investigate and optimize the use of high power infrared laser ablation for bone cutting or drilling.
In optical nerve stimulation, infrared laser light is used to stimulate peripheral nerves to generate an action potential. Optical nerve stimulation gives better spatial selectivity and has less stimulation artifacts than electrical stimulation. The technique is still new and we investigate the influence of different laser parameters on stimulation efficiency in Lumbricina.
One of our research goals is the combination of these techniques in minimally invasive cochlear implantation surgery. In this procedure drilling and stimulation could be integrated in a single optical system, where the stimulation serves as feedback to safeguard the nerves.