A Sharper Future for Retinal Implants

February 2, 2011 | Source: Technology Review

Hippocampal neural cells grown on a light-sensitive base (Nature Communications/ Guglielmo Lanzani)

Research at the Italian Institute of Technology suggests a way to make higher-quality, more biocompatible retinal implants by integrating living neural cells with a soft organic polymer semiconductor. It could lead to a retinal implant that produces much clearer vision.

The researchers grew neural cells in a petri dish directly on top of the polymer. Light shined on the polymer activates the photodiodes, which stimulate individual neurons much the way light-sensitive photoreceptor cells in a healthy eye cause neurons to fire. In contrast, the Argus II, made by a company called Second Sight, stimulates up to hundreds of thousands of neurons at one go.