Russian Unique Sapphire Technology: Gems Helpful as Well as Beautiful?
No you are not reading a short story by Ray Bradbury. Believe it or not, an innovative technology that is currently being patented permits sapphire capillaries and light guides to render laser therapy and diagnostics less traumatic and painful than those previously utilized by polymer light and quartz guides. The Russian technology is based on a well known method that permits growing almost ideally straight solid sapphire tubes (capillaries) from the melt. These capillaries can reach 30 cm (one foot) in length, an inner diameter of less than 1 mm (0.394 inches) and an outer diameter that doesn’t exceed 1.2mm (about 1.5 inches) perfectly accommodating medical needs.
The stretching process is usually very slow and must proceed at a rate that is sufficient (slow enough) for atoms to form the necessary shape and desired crystal structure. Russian scientific innovation concerns the production of tens of capillaries during one process stage. Sapphire tubes create universal interstitial irradiators, which are harmless to patients. Doctors did have some concerns, however, about capillaries being too thin, and Russian researchers discovered that the capillaries only break when the bending angle reaches 40 degrees.
Today, quartz is the most popular material for light guides and sometimes polymer guides are used. The polymers have too short a life span and the quartz causes the burning of tissues and the distortion of radiation parameters. At the suggestion of Russian scientists, the syringe needle, which protects the very thin and fragile fiber of the light guide, is replaced with a sapphire capillary. Sapphire has remarkable properties; it is solid, firm, chemically stable and conducts light in wide spectral range.
So in this case, pretty really is as pretty does.