Researchers in the UK and China have developed a new technological solution to provide low-power systems for use in bionic eyes.
The solution was jointly developed by academics from the Harbin Institute of Technology and Northumbria University.
Bionic eye implants work in the existing eye structures or in the brain. They are designed to achieve functional vision goals as opposed to physical, cosmetic goals.
Several bionic eye implants are in development, but very few are currently available and they are only suitable for blindness caused by specific eye diseases. However, as research progresses, more people may soon be able to benefit from high-tech bionic eyes.
In collaboration with a research group led by Professor PingAn Hu of the Harbin Institute, Professor Richard Fu of Northumbria described the newly developed method of controlling the artificial synaptic devices used in bionic retinas, robots and visual prostheses as a “major breakthrough.” ‘.
3D-printed light receptors hold promise in the development of bionic eyes
Researchers found that injecting elements of the soft metal, indium, into a 2D material called molybdenum disulfide (MoS2) could improve electrical conductivity and reduce power consumption at the optical synapses used in the development of bionic eyes.
According to the team, the technology was then tested within the structure of an electronic retina and found to produce the required high-quality image detection functions.
“Today’s visual systems are based on physically separate sensors, memories and processing units,” said Professor Fu, an expert in shape memory, piezoelectric thin films, nanomaterials and nanodevices.
“These systems often have high power consumption and difficulties in performing complex image learning and processing tasks. Our newly developed method is therefore of great significance for the next generation [of] artificial visual systems.”
Published in Advanced materials, the research is supported by a UK-China Royal Society International Exchange Grant and the National Science Funding Council of China.