Chinese nanotechnologists injected tiny particles into the eyes of mice resulting in the rodents demonstrating "infrared 'night vision'" that lasted for months. According to nanoscientist Tian Xue and colleagues the University of Science and Technology of China, the technology could eventually help those with certain kinds of color blindness and "provide the potential for close integration within the human body to extend the visual spectrum." From New Scientist:
Like humans, mice cannot perceive light with a wavelength longer than 700 nanometres, which is at the red end of the visible spectrum. But the nanoparticles absorb light with longer – infrared – wavelengths and convert it into shorter wave light that retinal cells can detect. This converted light peaks at a wavelength of 535 nanometres, so the mice see infrared light as green...
Some mice did develop cloudy corneas after the injection, but this disappeared within a fortnight and occurred at similar rates to those in the control group. The team found no other evidence of damage to the mice’s eyes two months after the experiment.
The researchers published their findings in the scientific journal Cell: "Mammalian Near-Infrared Image Vision through Injectable and Self-Powered Retinal Nanoantennae"
Ziya Tong is a veteran science reporter who spent years hosting Discovery's flagship science program, Daily Planet: it's the sort of job that gives you a very broad, interdisciplinary view of the sciences, and it shows in her debut book, The Reality Bubble: Blind Spots, Hidden Truths, and the Dangerous Illusions that Shape Our World, […]
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