Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Laser-Powered 'Needle' Promises Painless Injections

Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Laser-Powered 'Needle' Promises Painless Injections

Article excerpt

From annual flu shots to childhood immunizations, needle injections are among the least popular staples of medical care, due to the "ouch" factor. But a new laser-based system that blasts microscopic jets of drugs into the skin could soon make getting a shot as painless as being hit with a puff of air.

The system uses an erbium-doped yttrium aluminum garnet laser to propel a tiny, precise stream of medicine with just the right amount of force. This type of laser is commonly used by dermatologists, "particularly for facial esthetic treatments," says Jack Yoh, professor of mechanical and aero space engineering at Seoul National University in South Korea, who developed the device along with his graduate students. Yoh and his team describe the injector in a paper published in the Optical Society's journal.

The laser is combined with a small adaptor that contains the drug to be delivered, in liquid form, plus a chamber containing water that acts as a "driving" fluid. A flexible membrane separates these two liquids. Each laser pulse, which lasts just 250 millionths of a second, generates a vapor bubble inside the driving fluid. …

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