Selective microzapping_dubbed laser ablation, a highly accurate technique of micromanipulation that enables researchers to burn off or cut through cellular material without destroying surrounding tissue_offers exciting possibilities as a research tool. However, its benefits have been somewhat compromised because most conventional laser- ablation systems operate at fixed wavelengths, and use open- beam configurations that require great care in maintaining alignment. Often a system must be perfectly aligned by a laser expert, and then isolated from vibration to obtain the desired results.

Recently, however, Huntley, Ill.-based Fryer Co. appears to have overcome these bothersome limitations by introducing a tunable ablation laser that features a fiber-optic delivery system. "The position of the microscope relative to the laser is completely irrelevant now," says Robert Nowak, Fryer's laser-systems product manager. "It has absolutely no effect on the unit's operation once the system is put together."

In addition, the equipment uses a dye cell that...

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