Retinal Prosthesis Uses Organic Printing Inks

Amazing research is being done on creating a photoactive film that could be used as a retinal prosthesis.


(Eric Glowacki measures the electrical response of the neurostimulation devices to pulses of red light)

Researchers led by Eric Glowacki, principal investigator of the organic nanocrystals subgroup in the Laboratory of Organic Electronics, Linköping University, have developed a tiny, simple photoactive film that converts light impulses into electrical signals. These signals in turn stimulate neurons (nerve cells). The research group has chosen to focus on a particularly pressing application, artificial retinas that may in the future restore sight to blind people. The Swedish team, specializing in nanomaterials and electronic devices, worked together with researchers in Israel, Italy and Austria to optimise the technology. Experiments in vision restoration were carried out by the group of Yael Hanein at Tel Aviv University in Israel.

The retina consists of several thin layers of cells. Light-sensitive neurons in the back of the eye convert incident light to electric signals, while other cells process the nerve impulses and transmit them onwards along the optic nerve...

The artificial retina consists of a thin circular film of photoactive material, and is similar to an individual pixel in a digital camera sensor. Each pixel is truly microscopic – it is about 100 times thinner than a single cell and has a diameter smaller than the diameter of a human hair. It consists of a pigment of semi-conducting nanocrystals. Such pigments are cheap and non-toxic, and are commonly used in commercial cosmetics and tattooing ink.

Although bionic eyes are not to be found in the novel Cyborg, they were provided to Steve Austin in the television show made from the novel - The Six Million Dollar Man.


(Diagram of bionic eye from The Six Million Dollar Man video)

Take a look at the intro to the original TV show, including a brief view of the bionic eye diagram from The Six Million Dollar Man video. SF fans may also be reminded of the artificial eyes from Frank Herbert's Dune series - read about the Tleilaxu Eyes.

From Direct electrical neurostimulation with organic pigment photocapacitors via LiU.

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