Next: microchips restore eyesight

Next: microchips restore eyesight

1011_NextRichard Taylor, a University of Oregon professor of physics, art and psychology, is putting his combined talents to work on a microchip to help people who have lost their sight see again. The device, which is implanted behind the eye, incorporates metal nanoparticles that assemble into “fractals,” objects in which any one part has the same pattern as the whole. Trees, clouds, galaxies and neurons are fractals. Current efforts to use microchips for blind patients are problematic because the chips don’t communicate well with neurons, says Taylor. But the new “fractal interface” increases the effectiveness of such technology by 100%. How does it work? The microchip collects light captured by the retina, guiding it to the neurons for relay to the optic nerve, which processes vision. Looking at certain fractal patterns has been shown to reduce stress, Taylor says. One of those patterns is incorporated into the new microchip. Taylor, whose research is the focus of a patent application filed by the UO’s Office of Technology Transfer, says it’s gratifying to interweave science and aesthetics. “It’s also gratifying to restore vision for people.”

Linda Baker