Solution for next-gen bionic eyes developed

1 min read

Researchers in the UK and China have developed a new technology solution to provide low-power systems for use in bionic eyes.

Image from Adobestock

The solution has been jointly developed by academics from the Harbin Institute of Technology and Northumbria University.

Bionic eye implants work inside the existing eye structures or in the brain. They are designed to achieve functional vision goals as opposed to physical, cosmetic ones.  

Several bionic eye implants are in development but currently very few are available, and are suitable only for blindness caused by specific eye diseases. However, as research continues, more people may soon benefit from high-tech bionic eyes.

Working in partnership with a research group led by Professor PingAn Hu from the Harbin Institute, Northumbria’s Professor Richard Fu described the newly developed method for controlling the artificial synaptic devices used in bionic retinas, robots and visual prostheses as a ‘significant breakthrough’.

3D printed light receptors hold promise in development of bionic eyes

Researchers discovered that injecting elements of the soft metal, indium, into a 2D material called molybdenum disulphide (MoS2) could improve electrical conductivity and reduce power consumption of 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 high-quality image sensing functions required.

“The current visual systems are based on physically separated sensors, memories and processing units,” said Professor Fu, an expert in shape memory, piezoelectric thin films, nano-materials and nanodevices. 

“These systems often have high power consumption and difficulties of performing complex image learning and processing tasks. Therefore, our newly developed method is of great significance for the next generation [of] artificial visual systems.”

Published in Advanced Materials, the research has been supported through a UK-China Royal Society International Exchange Grant, and the National Science Funding Council of China.