A team composed of mostly Israeli and Swedish researchers has developed a new retinal implant that uses thousands of microscopic sensors to transmit visual signals to the brain. Scientists hope this new device will help people with blinding retinal diseases see once again.
To create these hi-tech implants, designers used organic pigments with a special photoactive film that’s able to transform external light into electrical impulses. These electrical signals can then communicate with both the brain’s visual cortex and retinal cells.
Study authors describe these implants as operating similar to sensors found in digital cameras. Each pixel in the implant measures about 100 times smaller than a human cell and looks somewhat like a doughnut. The ring of these pixels is made of metal and in the center is a pigment with semi-conducting nanocrystals.
Although these implants have yet to be used in clinical trials, study authors claim they could be a revolutionary therapy for people suffering from retinal disorders. There’s no word yet when these implants will be tested or made available to the public.
Dr. Eric Glowacki, who studies organic nanocrystals at Linköping University, was the lead author on this project. A few other key study authors include Tel Aviv University’s David Rand, Kepler University’s Niyazi Serdar Sariciftci, and the University of Bologna’s Tobias Cramer.
Anyone interested in this research should check out the latest issue of Advanced Materials. This study was published under the title, “Direct Electrical Neurostimulation with Organic Pigment Photocapacitors.”