Nanoparticle Coating Gives Mice Night Vision

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Scientists observed that mice gained the ability to see infrared rays, with just a single injection of nanoparticles to their eyes

In a scientific first, a group of researchers, primarily from China, devised a nanoparticle technology which lets the eye view infrared light as well as visible light. Humans and most mammals are not naturally capable of observing infrared light, because of limitations in the ability to observe wavelengths outside the spectrum of visible light. Infrared light is generally emitted by objects radiating heat. It’s the wavelength of light, upon the detection of which night vision technology is based. The research team has developed a nanoparticle coating that can give mammals the ability to see infrared light just as easily as visible light.

The technology was developed by scientists hailing from multiple disciplines, the team consisted of a combined group from the University of Science and Technology of China, and the Massachusetts Medical School. The idea behind the invention was to make the human eye capable of perceiving infrared light. Infrared light has far too long a wavelength to be absorbed by the photoreceptors in the human eye. The team devised a nanoparticle transducers, which anchor down to the photoreceptors in the eye. The particles, capture the infrared rays and convert them into visible light with shorter wavelength.

“In our experiment, nanoparticles absorbed infrared light around 980 nm in wavelength and converted it into light peaked at 535 nm, which made the infrared light appear as the color green,” says Jin Bao, one of the lead researchers of the study.

The technology was tested on a test group of mice and they displayed symptoms of being able to see infrared light, such as dilated pupils. The group injected with the buffer solution, exhibited no such symptoms.

“In our study, we have shown that both rods and cones bind these nanoparticles and were activated by the near infrared light, so we believe this technology will also work in human eyes, not only for generating super vision but also for therapeutic solutions in human red color vision deficits.” Said co-lead of the study, Tian Xue.

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Adam Nurse was born and raised in Buffalo. He has written for the Huffington Post, MSNBC and Passport Magazine. In regards to academics, Adam earned his BBA from St. John's University. Adam covers entertainment and culture stories here at Oak Tribune.