To help restore vision of people with certain forms of visual impairment, scientists from Stanford University in California have developed what they call 'flexible retinal implant'.
According to researcher Rostam Dinyari, conditions such as age-related macular degeneration occur when some of the photoreceptors in the eye stop functioning properly.
Although other parts of the eye still work, it might be possible to restore vision using an implant that mimics the photoreceptor layer.
The flexible silicon implant have been developed by carving deep grooves into the silicon between adjacent solar cell pixels, reports New Scientist magazine.nserted over the most damaged part of the retina, the implant contains a camera that would capture video, convert it to near-infrared signals and project it directly onto the implant.
When hit by the light, the solar cells inject current patterns corresponding to the projected images into neural tissue, which ultimately arrive at the visual cortex via the optic nerve, which send signals to the brain.
The trials conducted on retinas extracted from pigs showed that the implant could be inserted without damaging the fragile solar cell array.
The team is now planning to implant the device into a live pig soon, before testing it in humans.
The study was presented at the 2009 IEDM conference in Baltimore, Maryland.