Smart and multifunctional contact lenses have been a concept in fantasy films for years. However, it is only now that they have appeared in reality. In the USA, engineers at the University of Michigan have created contact lenses that apply additional data to everything the human eye sees. These lenses allow a person to see in the dark as if they were wearing night vision device before their eyes.
Night Vision Lenses
A new wonderful material called graphene can be used to create contact lenses with usable night vision systems. Earlier scientists used graphene to create infrared sensors. These sensors can be built into contact lenses, allowing the wearer to see in the dark like with a night vision device. The invention is only a few atoms thick. Therefore, the person who wears such sensors in contact lenses will not feel any discomfort with vision, but will receive additional privileges in the dark or dusk.
The future is here! The concept of night vision contact lenses is certainly not the ability to fly, but is also a good superpower.
Let's take a closer look at lenses with built-in night vision as a function.
A Little Bit of History
When you think of a night vision device, you imagine a big device in front of your eyes. This was true prior to the use of graphene.Innovative lenses are made of graphene. The material allows the creators to make the device so small that it fits in the eye. Also, the lens are not heated by body temperature.
Information about the development of night lenses has recently appeared in an article by Prof. Zhaohuei Zhong and Gerard A. Muru. The article was published in Nature Nanotechnology magazine. The article deals with the first light detector that operates at the temperature of an incandescent lamp. The technology, scientists say, can be integrated into a mobile device and even into conventional contact lenses.
These contact lenses are externally no different from conventional lenses for vision. Of course, they are more technologically capable of changing color or pattern. However, if you don't want anyone to know anything about your ability to see in the dark, just give preference to classic form of lenses. It won't reveal your secret. It won't draw attention to your eye. No one will guess your superpower.
How to use
You should treat them like regular contact lenses. You put them on in the morning and take them off at night. You put them in a special case for cleaning, which also recharges the battery. They are very comfortable, fit well to your eyes and correct your vision when you wear them.
So, if you have a prescription from your doctor, scientists can embed all the features into the lenses.
The lenses project light just before the human eye. So, you can use them even with your eyes closed.
The US Army is already interested in such contact lenses for night vision. However, makers also hope that their innovative development will come in handy for commercial uses too:
- in smartphone cameras;
- on the windshield of cars to increase visibility in the dark;
- for parents as an additional way of watching their children at night;
- when a rescue team is working to find people using infrared radiation;
- to see human health data in hospitals;
- rescuing animals from poachers in forests or reserves without light sources, and so on.
How it works?
The night vision devices you probably hear about are based on infrared sensors. Infrared sensors need a certain cooling system, and they are also quite bulky, which is not very convenient to use. The scientists have eliminated these disadvantages by reducing such sensors and incorporating them into contact lenses.
They have significantly reduced the size of the sensors by making them from graphene - a kind of carbon, a thin and durable material. Graphene generates weak electrical voltage while it is exposed to infrared rays. An image is built up from the data obtained by measuring this signal. In other words, thanks to its properties, graphene absorbs infrared light, thus making the image of dark objects many times lighter.
Graphene is a chemical element with a single-layer structure of carbon atoms. Because of the structure of graphene atoms, the energy output of the substance is so low that it can capture only 2.3% of the rays. Scientists have proposed a method that allows you to create an electrical signal. This signal converts an existing charge in graphene into a current. This method turns a layer of carbon atoms into an effective detector.
The future is here. Lenses from graphene will go on sale and people will be able to feel like heroes of their favorite science fiction movies very soon. We will see!