Scientists and researchers all around the world are hard at work on creating replacement body parts to help people who were born lacking senses or lost senses to disease or accident. One group of researchers are working on technology to create a working artificial ear to help those who have lost their hearing. The artificial ear is 3-D printed and was developed by researchers at Princeton University.
According to the researchers, their bionic ear uses "biological tissue with functional electronics" to form a prosthetic device. The scientists created a proof of concept for the bionic ear using a 3-D printer that spat out a hydrogel that had been seeded with living cells. The prosthetic was printed using the "precise anatomic geometry of the human ear."
Along with that bio gel and the living cells was a conducting polymer consisting of infused silver nanoparticles. The 3-D printed ear has enhanced auditory sensing able to hear radio frequencies. The researchers say that complementary left and right ears would allow the user to listen to stereo music.
The researchers say that they used off the shelf 3-D printing tools to create a functional ear. The researchers designing the bionic ear also used CAD design tools. Creating bionic organs is typically a big challenge because with normal electronics researchers have to devise a method of incorporating typically 2-D rigid electronic components with organic materials. This new 3-D printed bionic ear interweaves the electronics into the biological components making it much easier to create biological shapes for functional prosthetic devices.
[via GMA Network]