Next Generation Artificial Retinas based on 2-D Materials Developed

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Scientists developed and tested the world’s first ultrathin artificial retina that could enormously improve implantable visualization technology for the blind.

The artificial retina is a flexible device which uses 2-D materials, and has a potential to restore vision to people suffering from retinal disorder. By modifying the device, it could also be used to monitor heart and brain activity.

The findings was presented at the 256th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS) on August 20, 2018. The researchers demonstrated how to fabricate an artificial retina by using few-layer graphene and molybdenum disulfide. Nanshu Lu, Ph.D., said “although this research is still in its infancy, it is a very exciting starting point for the use of these materials to restore vision.”

Silicon-based retinal implants, one of the existing cure for retinal disorders (macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, and retinitis pigmentosa) didn’t gained much popularity as they were rigid, flat and fragile, making it hard to replicate the natural curvature of the retina. The 2-D materials include graphene and molybdenum disulfide, as well as thin layers of gold, alumina and silicon nitrate, which helped the next generation artificial retinas to have a flexible, high density, and curved sensor array.

The researchers observed that the prototype of artificial retina were biocompatible and successfully mimicked the structural features of the human eye. The ultrathin sensors has huge potential to be implanted on the surface of heart and could detect arrhythmias. Furthermore, researchers are exploring ways to use the technology to laminate electronic tattoos on the skin’s surface in order to monitor data of real-time health. They also hope to develop the next generation of soft bio-electronic retinal prostheses by the assistance of 2-D technology.

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