Biocompatible Retinal Implants
Prototype organic retinal implants are being grown on a photosensitive polymer hybrid by researchers at the Italian Institute of Technology. Retinal implants restore some degree of vision by sending a signal from an external video camera to metal electrodes implanted at the back of the retina. (See this article on the MIT Retinal Implant and the 'Bionic Eye' Argus II Retinal Implant for more information).
The Guglielmo Lanzani lab grew neural cells in a petri dish directly on top of the polymer. Light shined on the polymer activates the photodiodes, which stimulate individual neurons much the way light-sensitive photoreceptor cells in a healthy eye cause neurons to fire. (In contrast, the Argus II stimulates up to hundreds of thousands of neurons at one go.) Developed further, the Lanzani approach could lead to a retinal implant that produces much clearer vision.
The researchers grew rat embryonic hippocampal neurons on a substrate consisting of photodiodes made of indium tin oxide coated with a layer of photoconducting organic polymer, and another organic layer that functioned as an adhesive. The rat neurons and the diodes were immersed in an ionic solution. The diodes, when activated by light, triggered a charge imbalance in the ionic solution, which caused the neurons to fire.
Next, Lanzani plans to use printing techniques to position the photodiodes on the device precisely, more closely mimicking the geometry of the photoreceptor cells in the human retina. He says the photodiodes could be color-sensitized, to produce images in color rather than just black and white.
(Hippocampal neural cells)
stained green with a fluorescent dye are grown
on a light-sensitive base
If you can grow a biocompatible retinal implant, sooner or later you'll want to make your own complete eyes. Science fiction fans have been on the lookout for artificial eyes ever since we saw them in Ridley Scott's 1982 film Blade Runner. A genetic designer of eyes has an unpleasant meeting with replicants who interrupt his lab work.
(Genetic design of eyes from Blade Runner)
SF fans also remember the Nikon eyes from Neuromancer:
Case turned his head and looked up into Wage's face. It was a tanned and forgettable mask. The eyes were vatgrown sea-green Nikon transplants.
(Read more about Gibson's Nikon eyes)
Via Technology Review.
Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 2/8/2011)
Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.
| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |
you like to contribute a story tip?
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add
Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )
Related News Stories -
Sleeep PRO Earplug For Maximum Rest
'Merton... placed the electrodes of the sleep-inducer on his forehead.' - Arthur C. Clarke, 1963.
You'll Regrow That Limb, One Day
'... forcing the energy transfer which allowed him to regrow his lost fingers.' - Frank Herbert, 1972.
First 3D Printed Human Corneas From Stem Cells
Just what we need! Lots of spare parts.
Nanorobots Roam Your Bloodstream, Cleaning It
Too bad they won't have lasers, though...
Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!)
is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for
the Invention Category that interests
you, the Glossary, the Invention
Timeline, or see what's New.
Sleeep PRO Earplug For Maximum Rest
'Merton... placed the electrodes of the sleep-inducer on his forehead.'
Inspired By Japan, Nap Pods For Hajj
It's always a good time for a nap.
Amphibio 3D Printed Gill Shirt
'... we can descend and live down there at one of those year-round aquatic resorts.'
How Do You Put An Asteroid Into Earth Orbit? Carefully!
'...she would have to be coaxed by another series of pats into a circular orbit.'
PD Aerospace Space Plane By 2023
'The sleek, tapered space shuttle lay immobile upon the private landing field...'
Foldimate Folds Your Clothes Perfectly
Look ma, my room is clean! I can hear you now.
Robots Help People Get Dressed, As Predicted In 1931
Yes, people of the future, robots will dress you.
International Space Station Leak Plugged - With Finger
'These tag-alongs search out stray leaks.'
Robot Snake Flies, Fights Fires
Just a prototype, but still amazing.
IPAL Chinese Robot Babysitter
'But Nanny is different...'
ZKZM-500 LASER Assault Rifle
'The Iranian reached back into the locker and got a pair of laserifles.'
LA Subway Scanner, As Seen In 'Total Recall'
'I'm afraid to tell you this Mr. Quaid, but you have suffered a schizoed embolism...'
Sion Electric Car Covered With Solar Panels
'It drew its power from six square yards of sunpower screens on its low curved roof.'
PAL-V Liberty Flying Helicopter Car
'...lifted themselves to skimming flight upon whirling helicopters."
Space Drones - UK's Effective Space To Launch Rocket Tugs
'Twenty rocket tugs towed it from its Earth hangar out into space.'
DIY Autonomous Robot Detects Trash
'The search-bug detached itself and rolled forward.'
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories