3D Printed Bionic Ear, Can Hear Way Past Normal Human Levels
3D Printed Ear can hear audio frequencies 1 million times higher that a normal human ear.
Scientists at Princeton University have designed a bionic ear that can hear 1 million times better than human ears. What is more amazing is that the ‘Augmented Ear’ was printed using an off-the-shelf 3D printer.
In recent months, we’ve reported how 3D printers are being used to create human organs, however what’s noteworthy about this project is that this printed ear combines embedded electronics that actually inter-twine with the bodies own auditory nerve system, which is a first. Princeton researchers 3D-printed conductive nanoparticles then combined a small coil antenna with human cartilage to create the components for the “bionic” ear.
The result was a fully-functional organ that can hear audio frequencies a million times higher than our human ears, lead researcher Michael McAlpine told us.
“The way that our ear hears now is we pick up acoustic signals and then we convert those into electrical signals that go to our brain,” said McAlpine, an assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at Princeton. “What this ear does is it has this electronic coil on it and it picks up electronic signals directly.”
McAlpine said he and his research team wanted to ask the question of whether they could grow an organ in a petri dish, with the electronics intertwined into the organ as it grew. Their successful project used a $1,000 3D printer to print the cells with the electronics. The “ear” was then put into a dish so the cells could culture for 10 weeks into cartilage tissue. This technology could be a game changer for people who have lost their hearing, and or need replacement ears due to accident or injury.