BOX 3.5Nanotechnology—The Artificial Retina

The intertwined nature of the physical and life sciences is exemplified in the progress that has been made with the artificial retina, a device that resulted from a multi-laboratory initiative supported by the Department of Energy. The device has already shown promise in patients with macular degeneration, a major cause of blindness in the elderly. The nerves that are responsible for visual perception are at the surface of the retina, such that these nerves are accessible to electrodes. Microchips composed of ordered arrays of microscopic solar cells, capable of converting light into electrical pulses, have been implanted into the eyes of animals and patients. With a 60-electrode array, patients who had been blind are able to recognize objects and read a large print newspaper. (http://www.artificialretina.energy.gov/)

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SOURCE: U.S. Department of Energy, Artificial Retina Project.

From: 3, Why Now?

Cover of A New Biology for the 21st Century
A New Biology for the 21st Century: Ensuring the United States Leads the Coming Biology Revolution.
National Research Council (US) Committee on a New Biology for the 21st Century: Ensuring the United States Leads the Coming Biology Revolution.
Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2009.
Copyright © 2009, National Academy of Sciences.

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