Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Forecast calls for nanoflowers to help return eyesight

06.05.2011
University of Oregon physicist Richard Taylor is leading effort to design fractal devices to put in eyes

University of Oregon researcher Richard Taylor is on a quest to grow flowers that will help people who've lost their sight, such as those suffering from macular degeneration, to see again.

These flowers are not roses, tulips or columbines. They will be nanoflowers seeded from nano-sized particles of metals that grow, or self assemble, in a natural process -- diffusion limited aggregation. They will be fractals that mimic and communicate efficiently with neurons.

Fractals are "a trademark building block of nature," Taylor says. Fractals are objects with irregular curves or shapes, of which any one component seen under magnification is also the same shape. In math, that property is self-similarity. Trees, clouds, rivers, galaxies, lungs and neurons are fractals, Taylor says. Today's commercial electronic chips are not fractals, he adds.

Eye surgeons would implant these fractal devices within the eyes of blind patients, providing interface circuitry that would collect light captured by the retina and guide it with almost 100 percent efficiency to neurons for relay to the optic nerve to process vision.

In an article titled "Vision of beauty" for Physics World, Taylor, a physicist and director of the UO Materials Science Institute, describes his envisioned approach and how it might overcome the problems occurring with current efforts to insert photodiodes behind the eyes. Current chip technology is limited, because it doesn't allow sufficient connections with neurons.

"The wiring -- the neurons -- in the retina is fractal, but the chips are not fractal," Taylor says. "They are just little squares of electrodes that provide too little overlap with the neurons."

Beginning this summer, Taylor's doctoral student Rick Montgomery will begin a yearlong collaboration with Simon Brown at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand to experiment with various metals to grow the fractal flowers on implantable chips.

The idea for the project emerged as Taylor was working under a Cottrell Scholar Award he received in 2003 from the Research Corporation for Science Advancement. His vision is now beginning to blossom under grants from the Office of Naval Research (ONR), the U.S. Air Force and the National Science Foundation.

Taylor's theoretical concept for fractal-based photodiodes also is the focus of a U.S. patent application filed by the UO's Office of Technology Transfer under Taylor's and Brown's names, the UO and University of Canterbury.

The project, he writes in the Physics World article, is based on "the striking similarities between the eye and the digital camera." (Physics World article is available at: http://physicsworld.com/cws/article/indepth/45840)

"The front end of both systems," he writes, "consists of an adjustable aperture within a compound lens, and advances bring these similarities closer each year." Digital cameras, he adds, are approaching the capacity to capture the 127 megapixels of the human eye, but current chip-based implants, because of their interface, are only providing about 50 pixels of resolution.

Among the challenges, Taylor says, is determining which metals can best go into body without toxicity problems. "We're right at the start of this amazing voyage," Taylor says. "The ultimate thrill for me will be to go to a blind person and say, we're developing a chip that one day will help you see again. For me, that is very different from my previous research, where I've been looking at electronics to go into computers, to actually help somebody … if I can pull that off that will be a tremendous thrill for me."

Taylor also is working under a Research Corp. grant to pursue fractal-based solar cells.

About the University of Oregon

The University of Oregon is among the 108 institutions chosen from 4,633 U.S. universities for top-tier designation of "Very High Research Activity" in the 2010 Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. The UO also is one of two Pacific Northwest members of the Association of American Universities.

Contact: Jim Barlow, director of science and research communications, 541-346-3481, jebarlow@uoregon.edu

Source: Richard Taylor, professor of physics, director of Materials Science Institute, 541-346-4741, rpt@uoregon.edu

Links:
Physics World article: http://physicsworld.com/cws/article/indepth/45840
Taylor faculty page: http://physics.uoregon.edu/faculty/taylor.html
Physics department: http://physics.uoregon.edu/index.html
Materials Science Institute: http://materialscience.uoregon.edu/
UO Office of Technology Transfer: http://techtran.uoregon.edu/
Simon Brown faculty page: http://www.phys.canterbury.ac.nz/people/brown.shtml
Audio Clip with Taylor: http://comm.uoregon.edu/files/pmr/uploads/The_Vision.mp3
Follow UO Science on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/UniversityOfOregonScience

Jim Barlow | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.uoregon.edu

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Light-emitting bubbles captured in the wild
28.02.2017 | Georg-August-Universität Göttingen

nachricht Scientists reach back in time to discover some of the most power-packed galaxies
28.02.2017 | Clemson University

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Safe glide at total engine failure with ELA-inside

On January 15, 2009, Chesley B. Sullenberger was celebrated world-wide: after the two engines had failed due to bird strike, he and his flight crew succeeded after a glide flight with an Airbus A320 in ditching on the Hudson River. All 155 people on board were saved.

On January 15, 2009, Chesley B. Sullenberger was celebrated world-wide: after the two engines had failed due to bird strike, he and his flight crew succeeded...

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New technology offers fast peptide synthesis

28.02.2017 | Life Sciences

WSU research advances energy savings for oil, gas industries

28.02.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Who can find the fish that makes the best sound?

28.02.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>