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An artificial retina based on graphene

An artificial retina made of “miracle material” graphene has been developed by physicists in Germany. Credit: TUM

Back in 2014 the Munich Technical University announced within the European flagship Graphene project the concept of an artificial retina based on graphene.

In August 2018 researchers at Austin Texas university in collaboration with researchers at the Seoul university managed to develop a prototype of artificial retina based on a few layers of graphene that could be layered on a faulty retina to restore its functionality.

The layers act as light sensors and generate electrical spikes that are conveyed to the brain by the optical nerve whose terminations lay on the natural retina. The artificial one layered on the natural one would trick the nerve terminations into believing they are receiving the signals from the natural retina.

Mind you, this is not happening now, the prototype is just hinting on what might be possible. No trial has been performed so far on animals and human trials are still far away. There are still hurdles to solve (like how to place the artificial retina, power it up …) and of course several trials will be needed.

An artificial retina based on graphene (or other 2D structures like molybdenum disulphide) would be much better than a silicon based chip, like we have today (Argus II) because it can shape as a real retina providing a much larger field of vision with higher resolution.

About Roberto Saracco

Roberto Saracco fell in love with technology and its implications long time ago. His background is in math and computer science. Until April 2017 he led the EIT Digital Italian Node and then was head of the Industrial Doctoral School of EIT Digital up to September 2018. Previously, up to December 2011 he was the Director of the Telecom Italia Future Centre in Venice, looking at the interplay of technology evolution, economics and society. At the turn of the century he led a World Bank-Infodev project to stimulate entrepreneurship in Latin America. He is a senior member of IEEE where he leads the Industry Advisory Board within the Future Directions Committee and co-chairs the Digital Reality Initiative. He teaches a Master course on Technology Forecasting and Market impact at the University of Trento. He has published over 100 papers in journals and magazines and 14 books.