A 213 nm laser beam is capable of single photon ablative photodecomposition for the removal of a polymer or biological material substrate. Breaking the molecular bonds and displacing the molecules away from the substrate in a very short time period results in most of the laser photon energy being carried away by the displaced molecules, thus minimizing thermal damage to the substrate. The incident laser beam may be unfocussed and is preferably produced by quintupling the 1064 nm radiation from a Nd:YAG solid state laser, i.e., at 213 nm. In one application, the 213 nm laser beam is expanded in cross section and directed through a plurality of small beta barium borate (BBO) crystals for increasing the energy per photon of the laser radiation directed onto the substrate. The BBO crystals are arranged in a crystal matrix array to provide a large laser beam transmission area capable of accommodating high energy laser radiation without damaging the BBO crystals. The BBO crystal matrix array may also be used with 266 nm laser radiation for carrying out single or multi photon ablative photodecomposition. The BBO crystal matrix array may also be used in an optical parametric oscillator mode to generate high power tunable laser radiation in the range of 210-400 nm.
CONTRACTUAL ORIGIN OF THE INVENTION
The United States Government has rights in this invention pursuant to Contract No. W-31-109-ENG-38 between the U.S. Department of Energy and The University of Chicago representing Argonne National Laboratory.