Mice can now see at night: Scientists have inserted nanoparticles into their unblinking little eyes

Nanotechnology has been used by a crew of scientists to provide mice with temporary “night vision”. The scientists have inserted nanoparticles into their unblinking little eyes. Needless to say that these mice have been used as experiments but if these show positive results, the same could possibly be applied to people in the future.

Nanotechnology has been described as using a simple injection which contains nanoantennae  to enable the mice to see beyond their present visible range of light. Nanoantennae is nanospcopic electromagnetic collectors aimed to absorb specific wavelengths. The whole procedure is temporary and wears off after two weeks without enduring effects. In addition, the injection functions with structures already found in the eye and are not effective on rodents’ seeing ability during the day.

In short, most mammals can see only very little electromagnetic spectrum which equates to wavelengths from four hundred to seven hundred nanometres or the rainbow’s colours. It should be reminded that our eyes are not well equipped to see longer wavelengths of light given off at night. This comprises of near-infrared (NIR) and infrared light (IR). Both of them surrounds us, just like the heat people give off and objects that reproduce infrared light.

Gang Han, the study author, shares these words in a statement, “When light enters the eye and hits the retina, the rods and cones – or photoreceptor cells – absorb the photons with visible light wavelengths and send corresponding electric signals to the brain… Because infrared wavelengths are too long to be absorbed by photoreceptors, we are not able to perceive them”. It is only then that the “lectin conjugated nanoparticles” come into action.

These proteins are delivered through droplets. They direct the nanoantenna and stick them to the outside of retinal photoreceptors in the mice’s eyes. Then, they are converted NIR into visible green light that can then be seen through the retinal cells. The shorter wavelengths are absorbed and sent to the brain for translation.

It has been revealed that “With this research, we’ve broadly expanded the applications of our nanoparticle technology both in the lab and translationally … These nanoantennae will allow scientists to explore a number of intriguing questions, from how the brain interprets visual signals to helping treat color blindness.”

Leave a Comment