Laser microsurgery is a powerful tool for neurobiology, used to ablate cells and sever neurites in-vivo. We compare a relatively new laser source to two well-established designs. Rare-earth-doped mode-locked fibre lasers that produce high power pulses recently gained popularity for industrial uses. Such systems are manufactured to high standards of robustness and low maintenance requirements typical of solid-state lasers. We demonstrate that an Ytterbium-doped fibre femtosecond laser is comparable in precision to a Ti:Sapphire femtosecond laser (1–2 micrometres), but with added operational reliability. Due to the lower pulse energy required to ablate, it is more precise than a solid-state nanosecond laser. Due to reduced scattering of near infrared light, it can lesion deeper (more than 100 micrometres) in tissue. These advantages are not specific to the model system ablated for our demonstration, namely neurites in the nematode C. elegans, but are applicable to other systems and transparent tissue where a precise micron-resolution dissection is required.
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