While Google released a mini computer in the form of glasses, the South Korean scientists have gone further and have built a similar device in the … conventional contact lenses.
Lenses with electronic elements had already been created previously. For example, there are lenses for monitoring intraocular pressure in patients with glaucoma. However, they are created using materials that do not have the flexibility and transparency.
New height in this area is reached by specialists of the Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST), who conducted the study along with Samsung and other organizations. To provide flexibility and transparency a special nanotechnology material was used.
In fact, the transparent elements of modern electronic devices are usually made using a tin oxide and indium. But these materials are too fragile, and therefore not suitable for soft contact lenses. As for organic elements, low conductivity is the problem. The solution was to use a structure in which the silver nanowires are stacked between layers of graphene. This structure has the necessary flexibility, low resistance and a high value of the visible light transmittance (94%).
Taking a regular soft contact lens, the scientists combined it with the received material and integrated LED lights. Although this product cannot be called a display (so far it has only one pixel), it can be a start to the development of mini-screens that cover the cornea of the eye.
The created lens was tested on rabbits, whose eye size is comparable to the human. After five hours of wearing no excessive redness or other side effects were noticed. The researchers say that the ultimate goal is to provide “smart” lenses with capabilities of the Google Glass computer. Although it is clear that the release of such a product is still very far away.