Researchers 3D-print a prototype bionic eyeball

Bionic eye

Engineers from the University of Minnesota have 3D-printed a prototype for a bionic eyeball, which could one day change the lives of people with impaired sight.

The researchers demonstrated the process by printing components onto a hemisphere of glass. Building circuits on a curved surface is a tricky process, but essential for making a device that can be implanted into an eye.

The whole process took about an hour, and the university published a time-lapse video to accompany the paper:

First, they printed a base outline using an 'ink' containing silver particles, which dried evenly without running down the glass. They then used semiconducting polymer materials to print photodiodes, which convert light into electricity. 

Vision of the future

“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 professor Michael McAlpine, a co-author of the study. “Plus, we can easily print a semiconducting device on a curved surface, and they can’t.”

The technology is promising, but it's still at an early stage. The next steps are to print a prototype with a more light receptors, and to find a way to print onto a soft material that's suitable for implanting into a real eye.

Via Digital Trends