Photovoltaic solar power has a lot of remarkable applications; it has made solar power more efficient and cost-effective. Now, thanks to a team from Stanford University, it might help the blind regain their sight.
Retinal implants can bring help those with vision problems, but they have always come with the need for an external power source- and that means wires. The Palanker Lab, led by Daniel Palanker, Ph.D., has eliminated that problem with a way to transmit power to the implants, thanks to tiny photodiodes, or solar cells, reported Nature.
Patients with the implants wear specially designed glasses, equipped with a video camera, which send infrared signals into the eye. Those signals include visual data- what a healthy eye sees- that can also be converted into electrical power by the photodiodes, placed inside the eye. New Scientist boils it down:
The idea is that a video camera set on a pair of glasses would pick up visual information and relay it to the photovoltaic implant using a beam of low-intensity infrared light. The implant would then convert the light into electrical activity to stimulate neurons, sending the visual information to the brain without the need for any wires into the implant.
It's some pretty advanced technology, and a wonderful application of renewable energy that shows that solar technology doesn't just cut back on fossil fuels- it can make us healthier in other ways, too.