Technology

Researchers Develop Prototype for Bionic Eye

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Researchers from University of Minnesota 3D printed an array of light receptors on a hemispherical surface.

A team of researchers at the University of Minnesota developed a 3D printed array of light receptors on a hemispherical surface. The findings that could facilitate development of a bionic eye were published in the journal Advanced Materials on August 28, 2018. The researchers used a hemispherical glass dome to print electronics using custom-built 3D printer. The base ink of silver particles was dispensed and stayed in place and dried uniformly instead of running down the curved surface. Semiconducting polymer materials were used to print photodiodes that convert light into electricity. The researchers achieved 25% efficiency in converting the light into electricity with the fully 3D-printed semiconductors.

The researchers in their previous experiments achieved integrating 3D printing, electronics, and biology on a single platform and created a bionic ear and bionic skin that can facilitate electronics directly on a moving hand. The team also created cells and scaffolds that could help people living with spinal cord injuries regain some function. The researchers stated that the next steps are to create a prototype with more light receptors that are even more efficient. The team is focused on developing a method to print on a soft hemispherical material that can be implanted into a real eye.

The research was led by Michael C. McAlpine of Department of Mechanical Engineering at University of Minnesota. The research also included Ruitao Su, a mechanical engineering graduate student and postdoctoral researchers Sung Hyun Park, Shuang-Zhuang Guo, Kaiyan Qiu, Daeha Joung, Fanben Meng, and undergraduate student Jaewoo Jeong all from the University of Minnesota. The research was funded by the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering of the National Institutes of Health, The Boeing Company, and the Minnesota Discovery, Research, and InnoVation Economy Initiative through the State of Minnesota.