Sapphire Capillaries Help People

Russian scientists developed a unique technology for growing profiled sapphire crystals. Profiled crystal has predetermined properties – size and shape, for instance. Such crystals have great value for medicine and oncology, in particular, since sapphire capillaries and light guides will make laser therapy and diagnostics less traumatic and painful than in case of quartz and polymer light guides. Innovative technology, which is being patented right now, allows growing almost ideally straight solid sapphire tubes (capillaries) from the melt. Such capillaries are up to 30 cm long, their inner diameter is less than 1 mm, and outer diameter doesn’t exceed 1.2 mm – perfectly fitting needs of medics.

First, I would like to say a few words about lasers in tumor diagnostics and therapy. When a tumor is located inside a body, a thin light guide can reach it. Laser generates radiation with some certain wavelength, which is delivered to the tumor via the light guide. Then there are two ways: observing the tumor by collecting reflected light or treating it with more or less powerful radiation. This radiation will either kill (burn) tumor tissue or “switch on” some substance, introduced into the tumor, thus causing its decay with heat emission. Latter effect is called “photodynamic therapy” or PDT.

Today most popular material for light guides is quartz; sometimes polymer light guides are use, but their life is too short. Quartz also has drawbacks – it is able to react with biological tissue and blood, which is also considered to be a tissue. The result is sad – burns of healthy tissues and distortion of radiation parameters, while PDT requires precise intensity and wavelength of light.

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