A research team led by Prof Zhiyong Fan has developed an artificial visual system that uses a spherical biomimetic electrochemical eye with hemispherical retina made of a high-density perovskite nanowire array.
In the interview conducted by the School of Engineering, Prof Fan further elaborated his starting point of creating the "Super Human Eye", "In 2012, I came up with the idea to use nanowires and external electronic circuitry to enable high-density sensors on curved surface. The resulting biomimetic eye prototype, with distance among sensing rods minimized to three micrometers, has 30 times more sensors on the artificial retina than the real human eye. This super human eye technology, with high imaging resolution, will be ready for integration into medical robots to take care of patients. It will even cater to the visually impaired when we find suitable bio-compatible materials."
Fan said that a human user of the artificial eye will gain night vision capability and will be able to see smaller objects and further distance. For further information see the IDTechEx report on Neuroprosthetics 2018-2028: Technologies, Forecasts, Players.
"I think in about 10 years, we should see some very tangible practical applications of these bionic eyes," Hongrui Jiang, an electrical engineer at the University of Wisconsin-Madison who was not involved in the research, told Scientific American.
The research paper "A biomimetic eye with a hemispherical perovskite nanowire array retina" was recently published in the journal Nature.
Dr Leilei GU, the first author of the paper, is currently a postdoctoral fellow in Prof Fan's team. He recalled the biggest challenge upon receiving the Nature's editor's response on their research manuscript, "it then took us almost a year to fine-tune our research, redo experiments and re-submit the paper with much enriched content based on their queries. The biggest challenge was to scale down the microns, and that alone took us 10 months working 24/7. After numerous failures and bearing tremendous pressure, our efforts paid off." Prof Fan is Professor of the Department of Electronic and Computer Engineering.
Source and top image: Hong Kong University of Science and Technology