3D print pro­to­type made for bionic eye

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - LIFESTYLE -

RE­SEARCHERS have fully 3D printed an image sens­ing ar­ray on a hemi­sphere, which is a first-of-its-kind pro­to­type for a “bionic eye”, that could some day help blind peo­ple see or sighted peo­ple see bet­ter.

“Bionic eyes are usu­ally thought of as science fic­tion, but now we are closer than ever us­ing a mul­ti­ma­te­rial 3D printer,” said Michael McAlpine, from the Univer­sity of Min­nesota.

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-built 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 process takes an hour.

In the paper, pub­lished in the jour­nal Ad­vanced Ma­te­ri­als, the sur­pris­ing part of the process was the 25% ef­fi­ciency in con­vert­ing the light into elec­tric­ity achieved with the fully 3D-printed semi­con­duc­tors, McAlpine said. “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. | IANS

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BIONIC eyes are leav­ing the realm of sciencefic­tion and en­ter­ing re­al­ity.

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