Dr Withawat Withayachumnankul from the University of Adelaide helped conceive the idea and says the potential applications of the technology included creating new high-performance devices that connect to the internet.
“With advanced techniques to control the properties of surfaces, we can dynamically control their filter properties, which allow us to potentially create devices for high data rate optical communication or smart contact lenses,” he says.
“There is also the potential for it to have Wi-Fi access points and connection to external devices.”
The small lenses could also be used to gather and transmit information on a small display.
While there are numerous possible applications of the device, Withayachumnankul says the original purpose of the lens was an alternative to radiation protective goggles.
“We used a stretchable material called PDMS (Polydimethylsiloxane) and put some nano-material structures inside that layer which interacts with light,” he says.
“The functionality of the device is that the lens filters the light while maintaining a fully transparent structure, and can protect the eyes from radiation.”
Tiny artificial crystals termed “dielectric resonators” were used to help manipulate the waves of light.
The resonators are a fraction of the wavelength of light (100–500 nanometres) and are 500 times thinner than human hair.
“The current challenge is that the dielectric resonators only work for specific colours, but with our flexible surface we can adjust the operation range simply by stretching it,” Withayachumnankul says.
The materials used to make the lens have proven to be biocompatible and do not create any irritation to the eyes, making the device safe to wear.
The discovery comes after scientists from the University of South Australia’s Future Industries Institute this month successfully completed “proof of concept” research on a polymer 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.
– Caleb Radford
This article was first published by The Lead on 19 February 2016. Read the original article here.