Danger mouse! Potent rodents 'see' infrared after eyeballs injected with nanoparticles

Infrared enabling eye injection will give solders night time SUPER VISION | Daily Star

The scientists also discovered that the mice could acquire NIR pattern vision and differentiate between triangles, circles and other relatively complex shapes, even in daylight conditions.

Currently, infrared technology relies on detectors and cameras with outside power sources to obtain infrared images, as people, animals and objects emit infrared light as they give off heat.

The Chinese scientists behind the work said that it could pave the way for soldiers to be given "super vision" and help to treat forms of colour-blindness.

Illustration of the infrared-to-visible-light conversion process.

When the light hits the retina, the rods, which are wrapped around the eye's natural photoreceptor cells, are able to absorb light at a much longer wavelength than our current vision can expect.

"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 Bao.

When infrared light reaches the retina, the nanoparticles capture and transform its long wavelengths into shorter ones.

In something that seems out of a Philip K. Dick novel, researchers injected a nanoparticle solution into the eyes of mice, granting them the ability to see in infrared.

According to the research team, which included study senior author Tian Xue from the University of Science & Technology of China, and Gang Han from the University of Massachusetts' Medical School, the groundbreaking work may eventually lead to infrared vision among humans.

Nanoparticles (white) bind to rods and cones in the retina of mice, allowing the rodents to sense infrared. The nearby rod then absorbs these wavelengths and sends abnormal signal to the brain. Rather than modifying the photoreceptor, the technology involves a tiny antenna that converts the near-infrared (NIR) light into visible green light observable by the retina, and the resulting data would get interpreted as visible light by the brain.

To prove their findings, the scientists dilated the modified mice's pupils and exposed them to near-infrared light and then measured their electrical brain activity.

In rare cases, side effects from the injections such as cloudy corneas occurred but disappeared within less than a week.

The researchers also think more work can be done to fine tune the emission spectrum of the nanoparticles to suit human eyes, which utilise more cones than rods for their central vision compared to mouse eyes.

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