Researchers to develop nano-size battery to be implanted in eye to power artificial retina

Jan 12, 2006
Schematic of nanobattery that would be implanted in or near the eye
Schematic of nanobattery that would be implanted in or near the eye.

Several researchers from Sandia National Laboratories, led by principal investigator Susan Rempe, are part of a multi-institutional, multidisciplinary team developing a nano-size battery that one day could be implanted in the eye to power an artificial retina.

They are among the recipients of a five-year, $6.5 million grant recently awarded by the National Eye Institute of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to establish a new center, the National Center for Design of Biomimetic Nanoconductors. Based at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign under the direction of principal investigator Eric Jakobsson, the center is designed to rapidly launch revolutionary ideas in the use of nanomedicine.

The center will design, model, synthesize, and fabricate nanomedical devices based on natural and synthetic ion transporters — proteins that control ion motion across the membranes of every living cell.

The first task for the center will be to design a class of devices for generating electric power — bio-batteries — for a wide array of implantable devices, starting with an artificial retina that has already been developed at the Doheny Eye Institute at the University of Southern California. The artificial retina and accompanying nanobattery will be used to correct certain types of macular degeneration.

Sandia’s role is on the theoretical and computational side of the project, Rempe says. Sandia is a National Nuclear Security Administration laboratory.

“We will use our expertise in multi-scale modeling to understand and predict how transporter structure leads to function, with an initial focus on specialized transporters found in the electric eel,” Rempe says. “This information will give us a better understanding of how power is naturally created in biological organisms — information to be used for designing and building the nanobattery.”

Speaking of the vital role of modeling, she adds, “If you don’t understand it, you can’t engineer it.”

Ultimately the algorithms, software, design expertise, and scientific knowledge gained through the modeling efforts, in which Rempe is joined by Kevin Leung and Steve Plimpton, will be shared with the external community through workshops, seminars, conferences, and collaborations.

Working on another aspect of the project is Jeff Brinker, who is affiliated with both Sandia and the University of New Mexico. He will engineer components of the bio-battery using silica technology.

The team plans to translate several categories of biological function into new devices that would treat disease and lead to implantable devices. Properties of interest that appear in the biological ion transporters include electrical signaling, osmotic pumping, and molecular detection.

Source: Sandia National Laboratories

Explore further: Existence of two-dimensional nanomaterial silicene questioned

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

New tool, savings for manufacturing hard materials

Jul 17, 2014

"Machining," in particular the process of cutting hard, brittle materials during manufacturing, can be difficult, often because the cutting tool, typically made of single crystal diamond, the hardest material ...

The future's most pressing energy questions

Jul 16, 2014

Top researchers, entrepreneurs, scholars, and policymakers from Massachusetts and Switzerland convened at Northeastern University on Friday for an energy summit, where participants discussed innovations and ...

Helsinki to test mobility system with mesh of transport

Jul 12, 2014

How people move around in the city in 2014 might become quaint history by 2025, at least in Helsinki, where urban thinkers suggest revamping the system by setting up efficiently linked transportation modes ...

New materials for future green tech devices

Jul 15, 2014

From your hot car to your warm laptop, every machine and device in your life wastes a lot of energy through the loss of heat. But thermoelectric devices, which convert heat to electricity and vice versa, ...

States adopt anti-snooping laws

Jul 10, 2014

Worried about your boss prying into your personal business, poking around in aspects of your life you'd rather keep between friends and family - even as you share more of it on social media?

Recommended for you

Graphene surfaces on photonic racetracks

1 hour ago

In an article published in Optics Express, scientists from The University of Manchester describe how graphene can be wrapped around a silicon wire, or waveguide, and modify the transmission of light through it.

Simulating the invisible

1 hour ago

Panagiotis Grammatikopoulos in the OIST Nanoparticles by Design Unit simulates the interactions of particles that are too small to see, and too complicated to visualize. In order to study the particles' behavior, he uses ...

Building 'invisible' materials with light

2 hours ago

A new method of building materials using light, developed by researchers at the University of Cambridge, could one day enable technologies that are often considered the realm of science fiction, such as invisibility ...

User comments : 0