The argon fluoride (ArF) laser is a type of excimer laser. Excimer lasers (short for "excited dimer") consist of a mixture of noble gas such as xenon, krypton or argon and a halogen gas such as chlorine or fluorine, which when subjected to high pressure and electrical stimulation emit stimulated ultraviolet (UV) light in the range of 193 nm.
During high-voltage electric discharge, an excimer gain medium is pumped with current pulses to form excimers. The excimers in turn dissociate rapidly after spontaneous emission to prevent reabsorption of the generated radiation.
The UV light emitted by the ArF laser is beyond the visual range of human eye, and hence it is essential to use UV goggles to protect the eyes and skin as well from the carcinogenic properties of the UV beam.
Organic compounds and biological matters easily absorb the UV light emitted by the ArF laser. This laser splits up the molecular bonds of tissues, which later disintegrates into the air via ablation in a controlled manner, instead of burning.
Therefore, the ArF lasers have a potential to eliminate fine layers of surface material without heating. This property enables ArF excimer lasers to be commonly used in high-resolution photolithography machines, a technology that is critical for microelectronic chip manufacturing for opthalmological application.
Other applications of ArF laser include the production of semiconductor integrated circuits. It also facilitates in situ analysis of mineral samples based on the ablation process.