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Nanoflowers may enable blind people to see again


May 6, 2011 - Washington

Soon, a special nanoflower may help return the eyesight of people, like those suffering from macular degeneration.

Richard Taylor at the University of Oregon is leading an effort to design a fractal-based retinal implant that will give a new life to blind people.

He is on a quest to grow these special nanoflowers seeded from nano-sized particles of metals that grow or self assemble in a natural process, diffusion limited aggregation.

These will be fractals that mimic and communicate efficiently with neurons.

Taylor says that fractals are "a trademark building block of nature," objects with irregular curves or shapes, of which any one component seen under magnification is also the same shape.

According to him, trees, clouds, rivers, galaxies, lungs and neurons are fractals. However, today's commercial electronic chips are not fractals.

When eye surgeons would implant the fractal devices in the eyes of blind patients, interface circuitry happens that would collect light captured by the retina and guide it with almost 100 pc efficiency to neurons for relay to the optic nerve to process vision.

Taylor faces many challenges in his envisioned approach, most important being determining which metals can best go into body without toxicity problems.

"We're right at the start of this amazing voyage. 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," Taylor says.

ANI

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