China’s soldiers to get a massive advantage as scientists create SUPER VISION

China’s soldiers to get a massive advantage as scientists create SUPER VISION

A team of scientists, led by USTC's Xue and Jin Bao, developed nanoparticles that anchor tightly to the eyes' photoreceptor cells, acting as tiny IR transducers. Our eyes aren't equipped to see longer wavelengths of light given off at night, which includes near-infrared (NIR) and infrared (IR) light - both of which are all around us, like the heat people give off or objects that reflect infrared light.

A multidisciplinary team of researchers has just given mice "night vision" by inserting nanoparticles into their beady little eyes - and it could potentially be applied to humans someday.

In the study the injectable particles bound to photoreceptor cells known as rods and cones. There are, however, other wavelengths that we can not detect except with special equipment: night vision goggles are an example of IR detecting technology.

Scientists from the USA and China have given mice the ability to see near-infrared light, a wavelength not normally visible to the rodents (or human beings, for that matter), by injecting nanoparticles into their eyes. Those are then absorbed by a nearby rod or cone, which sends a normal signal to the brain, tricking it into thinking visible light hit the retina.

The full study was published this week in the journal Cell. The particles were created to absorb the longer IR wavelengths and emit the shorter visible wavelengths, which are in turn absorbed by photoreceptor cells that signal the brain.

The researchers tested the nanoparticles in mice, which, like humans, can not see infrared naturally. When the researchers shone infrared light into the furry creatures' pupils, they constricted - a sign that their eyes were registering the light.

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In rare cases, side effects did occur, leaving some mice with cloudy corneas, which disappeared in less than a week. This may have been caused by the injection process alone because mice that only received injections of the buffer solution had a similar rate of these side effects. Other tests found no damage to the retina's structure following the injections.

"We believe this technology will also work in human eyes, not only for generating super vision but also for therapeutic solutions in human red colour vision deficits", Xue said.

Current infrared technology relies on detectors and cameras that are often limited by ambient daylight and need outside power sources.

"In the future, we think there may be room to improve the technology with a new version of organic-based nanoparticles, made of FDA-approved compounds, that appear to result in even brighter infrared vision", says Han. In a Phys.org article, University of Massachusetts Medical School researcher Gang Han explained the basic science of vision.

A recent scientific breakthrough made jointly by scientists in China and the United States will enable mammals to see in the dark, and also serve as the basis for fixing human beings color blindness.

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