Published: Sun, March 03, 2019
Research | By Raquel Erickson

Nanoparticle Injection Gives Mice Night Vision To See In Infrared

Nanoparticle Injection Gives Mice Night Vision To See In Infrared

The mice were put through a battery of tests which found that they could recognize infrared patterns while exposed to daylight and also perceived infrared light and visible light in a similar manner.

Researchers at the University of Science and Technology in China and the University of Massachusetts Medical School developed nanoparticles that bind to the eye's existing structures.

The nanoparticles in the injection, however, latch onto the photoreceptor cells and act as tiny transducers.

An experiment enabled mice to see through near-infrared light using nanoparticles.

Could this experiment, which surprisingly had nearly zero side effects (the cloudy corneas that were observed in some mice quickly cleared) actually give humans Predator vision?

The nanoparticles work by anchoring to the mouse's photoreceptor cells, with the rodent then subjected to infrared light, with nanoparticles capturing the infrared wavelengths and retransmitting shorter wavelengths within the visible light range.

"In our experiment, nanoparticles absorbed infrared light around 980 nm in wavelength and converted it into light peaked at 535 nm,"University of Science and Technology of China scientist Jin Bao told Phys.org, "which made the infrared light appear as the color green". Our eyes aren't equipped to see longer wavelengths of light given off at night, which includes near-infrared (NIR) and infrared (IR) light - both of which are all around us, like the heat people give off or objects that reflect infrared light.


The researchers tested the nanoparticles in mice, which, like humans, can not see infrared naturally.

Infrared has a much longer wavelength than "visible light", and the injected cones absorb the longer wavelength and send the signal to the brain, according to the research published in the journal Cell.

Mice that received the injections showed unconscious physical signs that they were detecting infrared light, such as their pupils constricting.

The researchers said the mice's ability to see visible light was not impaired and the effects lasted for as long as 10 weeks. This thought-provoking research should pave the way for a number of critical applications through the unique creation of mammalian near-infrared vision capabilities with high conversion potential.

In rare cases, side effects did occur, leaving some mice with cloudy corneas, which disappeared in less than a week.

Prof Han said: "In the future, we think there may be room to improve the technology with a new version of organic-based nanoparticles, made of FDA (Food and Drug Administration) approved compounds, that appear to result in even brighter infrared vision".

Would it work in humans?

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