Breakthrough in Hybrid Energy System to Powers Smart Contact Lenses

Breakthrough in Hybrid Energy System to Powers Smart Contact Lenses

Key Points:

  • Researchers at the University of Utah have developed a hybrid energy-generation unit for smart contact lenses.
  • The device combines flexible silicon solar cells with a tear-powered energy harvester. A sophisticated power-management circuit ensures a steady output.
  • The device’s continuous energy harvesting capability enables uninterrupted functionality, even with closed eyes.
  • Smart contact lenses with this technology offer various applications, including healthcare monitoring, augmented reality, and drug delivery.

Advancements in smart contact lens technology have taken a significant leap forward with the development of a groundbreaking hybrid energy-generation unit by researchers at the University of Utah. This innovative system integrates flexible silicon solar cells with a tear-powered device, providing a reliable and sustainable power source for smart contacts and other ocular devices.

Published in the journal Small, the research outlines the creation of this cutting-edge device, designed to address the challenges posed by power electronics within the delicate environment of the eye. Due to the eye’s sensitivity and limited space, traditional power sources such as big batteries and wires are impractical for ocular applications.

The hybrid energy-generation unit comprises two key components: flexible silicon solar cells and an eye-blinking-activated tear-powered system. The miniaturized solar cells capture light from natural and artificial sources, while the tear-powered device harnesses the electrolytes in tears to generate energy through oxidation reactions.

The tear-powered system operates seamlessly with the natural blinking motion of the eye, ensuring continuous energy harvesting without obstructing vision or causing discomfort. Integrating an 11-millifarad supercapacitor within a power-management circuit enables stable power output of approximately 150 microwatts at 3.3 volts, eliminating the need for external batteries or charging cases.

According to Erfan Pourshaban, a former doctoral student at the University of Utah and now a process-integration engineer at Texas Instruments, this innovative power pack represents a significant improvement over existing wireless power transfer methods. Smart contact lenses can become more practical and user-friendly for consumers by providing a self-contained energy solution.

The potential applications of smart contact lenses powered by this hybrid energy system are vast and diverse. Beyond augmented reality, these lenses could revolutionize healthcare by monitoring health metrics, delivering targeted drug treatments, and detecting ocular diseases in real time.

Wei Gao, an assistant professor of medical engineering at Caltech, highlights the transformative impact of this technology in the realm of wearable biosensors and electrically responsive drug-delivery systems. The continuous energy harvesting capability ensures uninterrupted operation, even with closed eyes.

Pourshaban envisions broad applications for smart contact lenses in consumer settings, such as fitness tracking and retail analytics. However, he emphasizes the significant potential for monitoring and managing eye health conditions like glaucoma, where early detection can prevent irreversible vision loss.

TechGolly editorial team led by Al Mahmud Al Mamun. He worked as an Editor-in-Chief at a world-leading professional research Magazine. Rasel Hossain and Enamul Kabir are supporting as Managing Editor. Our team is intercorporate with technologists, researchers, and technology writers. We have substantial knowledge and background in Information Technology (IT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), and Embedded Technology.

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