3D Printed Ears That Can Capture Radio Waves

Tuesday, May 7th 2013. | Medical

It’s hard to imagine that a 3D printer that’s created mainly for fun and low-end prototyping can be used to help design an artificial organ that actually functions. Not too long time ago, scientists of Princeton University unveiled a bionic ear whose parts are mostly 3D Printed. Although, it’s not the first artificial organ created with the help of a 3D printer, this attempt can still be deemed as a major progress in medical science.

Bionic Ear by Princeton University

Built by interweaving the electronic components and the biology of the ear, the bionic ear is claimed to bring significant improvements over impaired hearings. It’s equipped with a coiled antenna which is capable of receiving radio signals and also transmitting them to the nerve endings of the wearer. This antenna is positioned inside a cartilage structure in which a set of twin wires going out from the cochlea, the most sensitive spiral area in human’s ears.

While the ear itself is composed of entirely plastic, the said antenna is made of a mix of different materials, namely hydrogel, calf cells and silver nano particles. It is the latter that gives it the capability to transmit radio frequency. In spite of all of these, this biometric ear still has to undergo a long period of testing before it can actually be used to help those with hearing dysfunction. Besides, radio wave is only a tip of the iceberg. The team wishes to make the ear compatible with many kinds of audio signals.In fact, their general goal is to “createorgans containing capabilities beyond what human biology ordinarily provides.” Pretty ambitious and scary, eh?

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