A team of University of Minnesota researchers have developed a prototype bionic eye using 3D printing technology.
The research, which was described in Advanced Materials, involved using a custom-built 3D printer to transfer a base ink of silver particles onto a hemispherical glass dome.
Scientists then used semiconducting polymer materials to print photodiodes, which convert light into electricity. The printing process takes around an hour to complete.
The printed semiconductors converted light into electricity with an efficiency of 25%.
The next step for the research team will be to create a prototype that is more efficient and carries a higher number of light receptors.
They are also exploring the potential to print on to a soft hemispherical material that could be implanted in a real eye.
Study author, Michael McAlpine, shared that he has a personal motivation for his work on the project.
“My mother is blind in one eye, and whenever I talk about my work, she says, ‘When are you going to print me a bionic eye?’” he said.