Nanoparticles give infrared eyesight

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8. March 2019

Surprisingly simple method could expand human visual sense

Extended senses: An injection with nanoparticles could expand our vision in the future – and make infrared radiation visible to us. Researchers have now successfully tested how this works with mice. The nanoparticles injected into the eye attach themselves to the photoreceptors of the retina and convert incident infrared radiation into green light signals. These are then processed normally by the eye. According to the researchers, this method could also give us humans a real infrared vision.

Even if our eye can still recognize individual photons of light, our sense of sight is comparatively limited. Many animals have much sharper and faster eyes, or they see areas of electromagnetic radiation invisible to us. So bats and many insects can see UV light, other invertebrates register infrared radiation. The human eye, on the other hand, can only perceive wavelengths between 400 and 700 nanometers.

Nanoparticles as light converters

But now Xue and his team have discovered a method that could make it much easier for us to expand our vision. For their study, they developed special nanoparticles that act like small light converters: When irradiated with infrared light in the 980 nanometer wavelength range, they emit visible light with a wavelength of 535 nanometers. The infrared radiation is thus converted into visible green light.

Read the original article here: Cell, 2019; doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2019.01.038

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