Scientists 3D print light receptors for “bionic eye” that could soon give vision to blind people. For the first time, researchers from the University of Minnesota have engineered a fully 3D printed prototype on a hemispherical surface.
This new creation shows a start of developing a “bionic eye” that could help blind people see in the future. This discovery now appears in Advanced Materials which is a peer-reviewed scientific journal that covers materials science.
The team of researchers started their work with a hemispherical glass dome. They used their custom-built 3D printer for printing with a base ink of silver particles. Then for converting light into electricity, they used semiconducting polymer materials. The whole process took about an hour.
They said that they achieved the 25 percent efficiency in converting the light into electricity through the fully 3D-printed semiconductors.
“We have a long way to go to routinely print active electronics reliably, but our 3D-printed semiconductors are now starting to show that they could potentially rival the efficiency of semiconducting devices fabricated in microfabrication facilities,” said Michael McAlpine at the University of Minnesota Benjamin Mayhugh Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering and a co-author of the study. “Plus, we can easily print a semiconducting device on a curved surface, and they can’t.”
McAlpine said that further steps are required to build a more efficient prototype with more light receptors. They also want to discover a method to develop material that can be implanted into a real eye.