Nanotubes could lead way to restoring sight

3 December 2014

A team from Tel Aviv University (TAU) has developed wireless material that is able to trigger neuronal activity in response to light. The groundbreaking finding could help people who lose their sight because of damage to the retina, and could make a prosthetic retina a closer possibility.

Published in Nano Letters, the study saw the researchers create a revolutionary novel device tested on animal-derived retinal models. This development could potentially treat a number of eye diseases, as well as degradation of the retina that happens with age.

The study, led by Professor Yael Hanein of the university's School of Electrical Engineering and head of TAU's Center for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology, found that the device was more efficient, flexible, and can stimulate neurons more effectively than other technologies.

Professor Hanein said: "The new prosthetic is compact, unlike previous designs that used wires or metals while attempting to sense light. Additionally, the new material is capable of higher spatial resolution, whereas older designs struggled in this area."

By combining semiconductor nanorods and carbon nanotubes, the team was able to create a wireless and light-sensitive flexible film, which could eventually replace a damaged retina in the eye.

The researchers tested the new device with chick retinas which were not yet light sensitive to prove that the artificial retina is able to induce neuronal activity in response to light.

Posted by Edward Bartel


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