Super-human vision has long been the subject of science fiction, much like any enhancement to the human body. The collective ability of the human race to look and appreciate the world around us is one of the few aspects of our world that we share on a global scale, and it’s an aspect that scientists have been looking to improve since the beginning of modern medical science – and thanks to the development of graphene, it may be a future that could see fruition in coming years.
The ability to record and play video in front of our eyes may sound straight out of Star Trek, but smart contact lenses have already seen enormous development in recent years, part of our desire to integrate advanced electronics into our biology.
And although we haven’t seen much success in the past, this may change thanks to the unique chemical and physical characteristics of the latest super-material: graphene.
In laymen’s terms, graphene is an extremely thin layer or sheet of carbon that acts as an excellent superconductor and is 200 times stronger than steel while still maintaining flexibility.
On a chemical level, graphene is a single layer of atoms that is made up of a multi-layered structure of graphite, the material that is most commonly found in the tips of pencils. In the past, scientists believed that graphene was too difficult to synthesize, and a Canadian physicist by the name of Philip Russell Wallace, who had spent time studying graphite, invented a 2D analogue called graphene to help theorize the properties of graphite.
He argued that the two may have similar characteristics, but the science world deemed much of what he “invented” to be made up, and had no place in a practical world. But fast-forward to 2004, and physicists Konstantin Novoselove and Andre Geim managed to extract some flakes from a lump of graphite, and essentially proved Wallace’s theories as correct.
A Component of Next Gen Tech
Due to the many properties inherent to graphene, scientists quickly realised that it could be applied to a number of advanced technologies, with one of them being smart contact lenses.
The idea is to integrate graphene directly into the lenses, allowing them to take on a more digital nature, without compromising their structure or their ability to enhance the eyesight of whomever was wearing them.
This also includes having “miniature” computers within the contact lens itself, allowing the user to record and playback their day, and may even see more advanced features, such as a live connection to the internet, and streaming of everything from television to Australian sports betting. The only downside to the technology now is the exposure to electromagnetic waves, which are present throughout the planet.
These EM waves have the capability of damaging any electronics they meet, and due to the nature of how small the graphene circuitry would be, they would be unshielded to EM waves.
The Future of Smart Contact Lenses
On top of the Em wave problem, along with issues of neovasularization, smart contact lenses may begin to see testing and production within the next five years.