Thursday, 21 March, 2019

Nanotechnology enables mice to see infrared light

This image shows nanoparticles in green binding to the rods and cones of the mouse retina.Y. Ma et al. 2019 This image shows nanoparticles in green binding to the rods and cones of the mouse retina.Y. Ma et al. 2019
Cary Marshall | 04 March, 2019, 21:27

Some species of snakes, frogs, and fish can see in infrared. So can the fearsome Predator. This spectrum is typically invisible to the human eye. This would indicate that the nanoparticles and conventional vision were working simultaneously.

Senior author Professor Tian Xue, of the University of Science and Technology of China, said: "In our study, we have shown both rods and cones bind these nanoparticles and were activated by the near infrared light". They then injected it directly into the eyes of mice.

Infrared radiation (IR) wavelengths extend beyond those of visible light, making them generally invisible to the human eye.

Essentially, they created a Supermouse.

Humans, as well as other mammals, can only see visible optical light, being able to see only through a certain range of wavelength, which is often presented as the range of the rainbow colors. Typically, our eyes only respond to wavelengths in the spectrum between approximately 400 and 700 nanometers. "Because infrared wavelengths are too long to be absorbed by photoreceptors, we are not able to perceive them".

When infrared light hit a mouse's retina, nanoparticles introduced to the eye latched onto those photoreceptor cells and acted as micro-transducers.

To prove their findings, the scientists dilated the modified mice's pupils and exposed them to near-infrared light and then measured their electrical brain activity. When the infrared light comes in contact with the retina, nanoparticles capture the wavelengths and emit shorter wavelengths to match the visible light range.

In the future, the researchers plan to tweak their nanoparticles to better suit human eyes, which have more cones and rods than mice.

More news: National Football League free agency rumors: Jaguars to sign QB Nick Foles

This may have been caused by the injection process alone because mice that only received injections of the dummy solution had a similar rate of these minor problems.

And that's exactly what happened. The mice were trained to find a hidden platform that was associated with one or two specific patterns.

If humans could see infrared light, motorists could avoid accidentally hitting pedestrians by seeing their heat signatures in the dark.

The mice were able to detect near-infrared light (NIR), as well as normal light, for about 10 weeks without any long-term side effects, the study published Thursday in the science journal Cell found.

The researchers tested the nanoparticles in mice, which, like humans, can not see infrared naturally.

It was observed that in the treated mice, the enhanced effects wore off in about a fortnight, and had no unfortunate side effects on the health or vision of the animals.

Because the new technology is compatible with regular vision, it could provide a new way for mammalian vision enhancement or even open up new avenues to fix normal vision - you could tinker with the nanoparticles so they parse different wavelengths or alter them enough that they deliver drugs into the eye.

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