A Wheaton, Ill., startup founded by an ophthalmologist is working on an artificial silicon retina that could restore sight to those suffering from macular degeneration-the leading cause of blindness in people older than 65. The device is a silicon wafer 3 millimeters across covered with photodiodes. With the wafer implanted in the retina, the photodiodes convert light into electrical impulses that travel through the optic nerve to the brain. The photodiodes will be packed so densely that the “resolution will theoretically be as good as normal vision,” says Optobionics founder Alan Chow; Stanford University’s Nanofabrication Center is collaborating on the miniaturization.
The implant has induced retinal activity in animals, but studies with human volunteers are more than a year away. Because the photodiodes are sensitive to infrared as well as visible light, Chow says these first subjects may report some odd sightings, such as beams shooting from a TV remote control.
Our best illustrations of 2022
Our artists’ thought-provoking, playful creations bring our stories to life, often saying more with an image than words ever could.
How CRISPR is making farmed animals bigger, stronger, and healthier
These gene-edited fish, pigs, and other animals could soon be on the menu.
The Download: the Saudi sci-fi megacity, and sleeping babies’ brains
10 Breakthrough Technologies 2023
Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review
Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.