The excimer laser is a laser that emits light in the ultraviolet light wavelength to perform eye surgery for manufacturing microelectronic devices and parts. The machine gets its name from the excimer molecule that creates the laser light beam action of the device. Laser light is created by the combination of a noble gas (such as argon, krypton, and xenon) and a reactive gas (such as fluorine or chlorine), which come together to create an exciting molecule to produce the laser light.
The excimer laser system helps create the conditions necessary for the molecular action that produces the laser light in the ultraviolet wavelength. The laser produces electrical stimulation under high pressure to create the excimer molecule. The molecule only exists for a short time in an excited or energized state. The compound releases its excess energy when stimulated by the machine to form a population inversion—which occurs when a system has more excited molecules than lower-energy molecules.
The excimer laser in application
LASIK eye surgery. In eye surgeries, the excimer laser is used specifically for performing LASIK surgery to correct vision. Laser-Assisted in Situ Keratomileusis (LASIK) reshapes the cornea to correct nearsightedness (myopia), farsightedness (hyperopia), and blurry vision (astigmatism). The laser system is usually combined with other ophthalmic instruments, ranging from corneal suction rings to mapping machines that provide corneal topography, which produces images of the cornea’s curvature to assist in the procedure.
The excimer laser system is used during the second phase of the surgery, during which the corneal stroma is reshaped. The ultraviolet laser light vaporizes the corneal tissue without damaging the adjacent stroma. The laser system includes an eye-tracking device that moves rapidly with the patient’s eye position to direct laser pulses for a specific placement.
Other medical applications. The excimer laser is used in many intricate surgeries because of its clean and precise cutting power, which eliminates the need for incisions. As with LASIK surgery, the laser also has the ability to vaporize the tissue, making it an alternative to burning tissue for removal or cauterization. The excimer laser system is used in a number of aesthetic and dermatological procedures, including psoriasis, atopic dermatitis, and leukoderma.
Photolithography. A third major application of the excimer laser is in photolithography, which is used to manufacture electronic parts and devices. The high resolution and output of the pulsing beams of the excimer laser replaced older parts’ manufacturing devices in order to produce denser, faster chips in less time. The laser has allowed smaller and smaller chips to be produced over the years, which are used to build small yet powerful machines such as laptop computers, handheld devices, and a long list of other electronic machines that we rely on every day.