Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The eventual successor to Glass


Tech never sleeps as seen by just how fast 3D printing has come along, not only in the first steps to print human organs using patient cells to start the process rolling but also in the first proof of concept to successfully merge electronics to contact lenses using the same tech to make it happen.

Michael McAlpine, the lead researcher, cautioned that the lens is not designed for actual use—for one, it requires an external power supply. Instead, he said the team created the device to demonstrate the ability to "3-D print" electronics into complex shapes and materials.

"This shows that we can use 3-D printing to create complex electronics including semiconductors," said McAlpine, an assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering. "We were able to 3-D print an entire device, in this case an LED." 

The hard contact lens is made of plastic. The researchers used tiny crystals, called quantum dots, to create the LEDs that generated the colored light. Different size dots can be used to generate various colors. 

"We used the quantum dots [also known as nanoparticles] as an ink," McAlpine said. "We were able to generate two different colors, orange and green."

The contact lens is also part of an ongoing effort to use 3-D printing to assemble diverse, and often hard-to-combine, materials into functioning devices. In the recent past, a team of Princeton professors including McAlpine created a bionic ear out of living cells with an embedded antenna that could receive radio signals.

Things, they keep a changin. - Bob Dylan

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