Burn eschar and other necrotic areas of the skin and soft tissue are anhydrous compared to the underlying viable tissue. A 193 nm ArF excimer laser, emitting electromagnetic radiation at 6.4 eV at fluence exceeding the ablation threshold, will debride such necrotic areas. Because such radiation is strongly absorbed by aqueous chloride ions through the nonthermal process of electron photodetachment, debridement will cease when hydrated (with chloride ions) viable tissue is exposed, avoiding collateral damage to this tissue. Such tissue will be sterile and ready for further treatment, such as a wound dressing and/or a skin graft. © 2011 Copyright Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE).