An eye on the future

20 July 2020 | Muriel Cozier

An artificial eye may eventually have better resolution the human eye.

A team of researchers from The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology have created an artificial eye that mimics the structure of the human retina. The scientists have come up with a proof of concept design based on an artificial retina containing densely packed, light-sensitive nanowires. Made from perovskite, a material of interest for solar cells, the nanowires form directly inside the pores of a hemispherical membrane of aluminium oxide, mimicking the photoreceptors of the human eye.

A lens is fixed over an aperture in an ‘eyeball’ which comprises a metal shell at the front, the artificial retina at the back and an ionic liquid in the middle. The retina is held in place by a ‘socket’ made from silicone polymer. Thin, flexible wires made of a liquid metal sealed in soft rubber tubes transmit signals from the nanowires to external circuitry for signal processing.

The researchers show that the device can ‘see’ by reconstructing images of three letters viewed by the artificial eye. The image has a low resolution, but the researchers suggest that by increasing the density of the nanowires to more than ten times that of photoreceptors in the human eye, the design could have even better resolution than the human eye

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