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Don't like Google Glass? Try this electronic contact lens by Samsung

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First Posted: Jun 09, 2013 11:12 AM EDT
A team of scientist turns an ordinary contact lens into a wearable computer using graphene-nanowires and a light-emitting diode.

A team of scientist turns an ordinary contact lens into a wearable computer using graphene-nanowires and a light-emitting diode. Credit:UNIST

While the world has its eyes on Google Glass, researchers are experimenting on graphene-metal nanowires  and other materials to build a computer contact lens that will enhance the human eye.

Busy at work to have a wearable technology next to the human cornea are several research institutions such as two departments of Samsung. They are exploring ways to minimize and eliminate problems to make the application more practical.

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A study titled "High-Performance, Transparent, and Stretchable Electrodes Using Graphene-Metal Nanowire Hybrid Structures" published on Nanoletters looked into the possibility of developing wearable and flexible electronics.

"Transparent electrodes that can remain electrically conductive and stable under large mechanical deformations are highly desirable for applications in flexible and wearable electronics. This paper describes a comprehensive study of the electrical, optical, and mechanical properties of hybrid nanostructures based on two-dimensional graphene and networks of one-dimensional metal nanowires, and their use as transparent and stretchable electrodes," the abstract of the study described.

The research was done by experts from the Ulsan National Institute of Science Technology, Kyung Hee University, Samsung Techwin R&D Center and Samsung Display Research.

"Our goal is to make a wearable contact-lens display that can do all the things Google Glass can do," explained Jang-Ung Park, the lead scientist from UNIST in an interview with MIT Technology Review.

In order to make a contact lens into a wearable computer, the team of scientists experimented on a retail contact lens and a light-emitting diode. They attached the light-emitting diode to the lens using a material made from silver nanowires and graphene.

So far the researchers have tested the contact lens cum computer on rabbit eyes, which are very similar to the human eyes. They have not documented any ill effects when using the wearable technology.

They also looked into other materials such as indium tin oxide but found out that they are rigid and too brittle and will melt a contact lens during operation. Meanwhile nanowires, organic conductors and graphene are flexible but do not possess the ideal conductivity.

The proponents of the study placed silver nanowires in between graphene sheets and were able to come up with a material that has low resistance to electricity. The stretchable material also allows transmission of visible light by as much as 94 percent.

The team then coated a regular contact lens with the material made from silver-graphene nanowires and then attached a light emitting diode. It is still a work in progress and that uses just one pixel.

Should the Glassholes worry about this contact lens computer or will they drop their Google Glasses for a cooler looking wearable technology?

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