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The artificial retina project is officially launched in May, 2014. After one year of research and preparation, we have finished the construction of microfabrication, biomaterial and electrophysiology platform. In July, 2016, we completed the design, fabrication and assembly of the prototype of artificial retina with 126 pixels resolution. We verified the stimulation strategies on small animals both in vivo and in vitro, and conducted implantation on large animals (pig). The further type test, compatibility test and animal test are expected in 2017, and the application for clinical approval is scheduled in 2018.
Major advances in technology include implants, in vitro electronics, electrophysiology, and biomaterials.
1. Research on implants
We have completed the design, fabrication and process optimization of 126 and 1024 electrodes, as well as the design and manufacture of the interface and homemade platform for high density electromechanical testing, and finished the preliminary electromechanical test.
We have developed several novel Pt electrode surface coating methods for stimulation electrode surface modification, which significantly reduced the electrochemical impedance and enhanced the charge storage capacity. The electrodes exhibited excellent performance of long-term stability.
We have completed the simulation, design, layout and function test of 128 channel IC, and manufactured SoC analog circuits with high density, low power consumption, and flexible configuration of stimulation current output.
We have finished the verification of ceramic and silicon-based high density implant packaging technology, overcome a series of difficulties in material air-tightness and bio-compatibility, and successfully finished the design and fabrication of multiple packaging solutions. Furthermore, we have completed the parts assembly, integration and silicone injection molding of the implant, and various kinds of tests are currently in progress.
2. In vitro Electronics
We have completed the real-time video processing, and will further develop a variety of advanced processing functions and artificial intelligence algorithms.
We have completed the dual band wireless energy and data transmission.
We have completed the animal testing of in vitro and in vivo electrical stimulation, and verified the effectiveness of electrical stimulation on multiple levels. We will make further development of optimal stimulation strategies.
We have completed the surgical verification of pig eye implant, and carried out successful implantation of 126 and 1024 channel electrode arrays in pig eyes. The feasibility of artificial retinal implantation was verified.