Academic journal article Science and Children

Researchers 3d Print Prototype for 'Bionic Eye'

Academic journal article Science and Children

Researchers 3d Print Prototype for 'Bionic Eye'

Article excerpt

A research team has, for the first time, fully 3D printed an array of light receptors on a hemispherical surface. This discovery marks a significant step toward creating a "bionic eye" that could someday help blind people see or improve the vision of sighted people.

"Bionic eyes are usually thought of as science fiction, but now we are closer than ever (to) using a multimaterial 3D printer," says Michael McAlpine, a co-author of the study.

Researchers started with a hemispherical glass dome to show how they could overcome the challenge of printing electronics on a curved surface. Using their custom-made 3D printer, they started with a base ink of silver particles. The dispensed ink stayed in place and dried uniformly instead of running down the curved surface. The researchers then used semiconducting polymer materials to print photodiodes, which convert light into electricity. The entire process takes about an hour.

McAlpine says the most surprising part of the process was the 25% efficiency in converting the light into electricity they achieved with the fully 3D-printed semiconductors. …

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