Research from the University of South Australia is set to transform the common contact lens into the next generation of consumer electronics.
Scientists from UniSA’s Future Industries Institute (FII) have successfully completed ‘proof of concept’ research on a polymer thin-film coating that conducts electricity on a contact lens, with the potential to build miniature electrical circuits that are safe to be worn by a person.
UniSA researcher from the FII, Associate Professor Drew Evans says the breakthrough technology could provide one of the safest methods to bring people and their smart devices closer together.
“Building on the technologies we pioneered in thin film coatings for the development of the world’s first fully plastic car mirrors, we have been working on the development of conducting polymers with a UK partner that specialises in contact lenses,” Assoc Prof Evans says.
“We have always known that our film coating technologies had potential for many applications and now we have taken that a step further by proving that we can make biocompatible, conducting polymers at the nanoscale and grow them directly on a contact lens.
“The fluids in the eye provide markers of a person’s health, so our goal now is to build electrical sensors on a contact lens from our polymers to sense in real time a person’s well-being.
“The next big leap is to develop complementary technologies to read the information transmitted by the conducting polymers.”
Assoc Prof Evans says this exciting research has brought personal, wearable, computer technologies one step closer.
“What is really significant is that the materials we are developing are not only safe but also have the potential for a range of personalised health monitoring applications that could make life simpler for people struggling with chronic health problems.”
The complete proof of concept research results have recently been published in ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces.
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