Researchers at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology have developed an artificial eye that closely resembles the real eye. It is based on technical and chemical components, the device is able to distinguish between individual symbols and see in the dark. The artificial analogue, along with the real prototype, has sensitivity to light, but at the same time the speed of its reactions passes faster.
How it works
According to its parameters, synthetic imitation of the eye is slightly larger than the standard human size. An artificial analogue has its own retina, which works according to the principle of the real one. It is based on a porous aluminum oxide membrane, the surface of which is equipped with millions of light-sensitive mini-sensors. The retinal membrane is placed inside the eye behind the anterior lens through which light rays pass. The membrane, in turn, accepts them.
Special ultra-thin light-sensitive wires that mimic the optic nerves of the brain provide visual information to the synthetic eye. Their thickness does not exceed 100 micrometers, and the material of manufacture is liquid metal. For protection, flexible wires are placed in rubber tubes.
The similarities between the synthetic analogue and the real prototype do not end there. Inside it, scientists placed an ionic liquid, which serves as a replacement for the vitreous humor - a substance located in the space between the retina and the lens of the "living" eye.
At this stage, the artificial eye reacts to light exposure in 30-40 milliseconds. Compared to the human, whose response rate is 40-150 milliseconds, the synthetic analogue wins a little. In addition, in theory, the device is capable of recognizing images of higher resolution than its real prototype. The reason is its artificial retina, which is equipped with about 460 million tiny light sensors per square centimeter of surface. In the real eye, they are replaced by light-sensitive cells, of which there are “only” 10 million in one centimeter.
Possibilities of use
Based on the results of the first experiments, the device was able to identify a number of symbols and several letters of the English alphabet. Despite the fact that today the artificial analog recognizes not so many elements, work on its improvement is still ongoing. In the future, scientists see the application of their development in the creation of more advanced visual prostheses. In addition, the vision device can be used to project a robot eye into modern humanoid mechanisms.
In general, the process of creating an exact copy of the human eye is quite expensive and consists of several steps. Today, the developers are faced with the task of reducing the thickness of the light-sensitive wires made of liquid metal, which are connected to the artificial retina. As it stands, each of them encompasses multiple light sensors, and ideally the researchers want to change this, requiring surgical precision.
According to scientists, there is still a lot of work ahead of them. In the future, they see great potential for their development. And although the artificial analog cannot be compared with the capabilities of telescopes or other optical instruments, researchers are confident that in the future it will be able to better recognize images than the human eye. In their opinion, the device will find widespread use in about ten years.
The Topic of Article: An artificial eye has been developed that can distinguish letters and see in the dark.