Editorial Feature

Er:YAG Lasers - Properties and Applications

Er:YAG lasers are solid-state lasers that have erbium-doped yttrium aluminium garnet as a lasing medium. These lasers emit infrared light at a wavelength of 2940 nm. The energy produced by the Er:YAG laser is 10-15 times more absorbed by water in the skin than the energy from CO2 lasers. This property limits the applications of Er:YAG laser in surgery and other application where water is present. Thus, this laser is less common than the other related lasers such as Nd:YAG and Er:glass lasers.

Low doped Er:YAG laser is an efficient tool for generating high power and high energy laser emission through two-level resonant pumping mechanisms. Er:YAG laser is commonly used in medical and dental applications.

Laser Properties

Laser Properties
Laser type Solid
Pump source Laser diode
Operating wavelength 1.53-1.56 µm

Physical and Chemical Properties

Physical and Chemical Properties
Chemical formula Er3+:Y3Al5O12
Molecular weight 593.7 g mol-1
Crystal structure Cubic
Melting point 1965°C
Mohs hardness 8.25
Thermal conductivity 11.2 W m-1 K-1
Specific heat capacity 0.59 J g-1 K-1
Young's modulus 335 GPa

Applications

Er:YAG lasers have been widely used for laser resurfacing of human skin that includes melasma, deep rhytides and acne scarring. The energy of Er:YAG lasers is also absorbed well by hydroxyapatite in addition to water, and hence they are suitable for cutting bone as well as soft tissues.

They are effective for treating tooth decay atraumatically, without the use of local anesthetia to numb the tooth. They eliminate the vibration of the dental drill to avoid the risk of causing microfractures in the tooth. However, the laser energy provides a sedative effect on the nerve when used at low power settings thereby creating a sensation of pain in the tooth.

Other major applications of Er:YAG laser include:

  • Dentistry
  • Removal of warts
  • Drug delivery.

Sources and Further Reading

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