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Mice gain the ability to see in the dark when their eyes are injected with metal nanoparticles that convert infrared radiation into visible light.
All objects and animals emit low-energy infrared radiation, even in the dark, but the human eye can only pick up visible light.
Now, a team co-led by researchers from the University of Science and Technology of China has produced metal nanoparticles that capture infrared radiation and re-emit it at as green light.
The researchers injected their nanoparticles into the back of mice’s eyes, attaching them to the light receptors. When treated mice were set loose in a dark maze lit only by infrared, they quickly navigated through it, whereas untreated mice blundered about blindly. The nanoparticles did not reduce the mice’s vision in normal light.
Built-in night vision could help soldiers during military operations or police on nightshifts, where handheld devices could be a hindrance.
- Cell 177, 243–255 (2019). doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2019.01.038