Mouse of danger! Powerful rodents will see & # 39; Infrared after eyeballs injected with nanoparticles


Did you know that a simple injection can give mice the power to see in infrared? Well, neither have we until a research paper documenting the results of a bizarre experiment was published in Cell on Thursday.

Researchers at the University of Science and Technology of China and the University of Massachusetts Medical School (UMass) in the United States, injected into the eyes of rodents a solution full of nanoparticles.

Some species of snakes, frogs and fish can see in infrared. Mammals, however, can only see visible light: the wavelengths below and beyond the limits of about 380 to 740 nanometers in the electromagnetic spectrum are invisible to us.

"When light enters the eye and reaches the retina, rods and cones – or photoreceptor cells – absorb the photons at wavelengths of visible light and send electrical signals corresponding to the brain," explained Gang Han, co-author of the article and associate professor at UMass. "As the infrared wavelengths are too long to be absorbed by the photoreceptors, we are not able to perceive them."

The nanoparticles in the injection, however, lock the photoreceptor cells and act as small transducers. When the infrared reaches these nanoparticles, the wavelength of light is shortened, converting the infrared into visible light that can be seen by the mice.

"In our experiment, the nanoparticles absorbed infrared light around 980 nm at wavelength and converted it into light with a peak of 535 nm, which made infrared light appear as green," said Jin Bao, co-author of article and associate professor of the University of Science and Technology.


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So, technically, it's just a clever trick, and mice can not see in infrared. But with the injection, they can perceive these signals when they are converted into visible light. As researchers flashed infrared light into the pupils of hairy creatures, they contracted – a sign that their eyes were registering the light.

Then they put the animals in a box. One end of the box was dark, without light, and the other side was bathed in visible light. Rats liked to spend more time in the comforting darkness. When the visible light was replaced by infrared, the mice that had been injected into the eyes detected this and avoided the brighter side.

It seems that "infrared vision" is good enough to distinguish various forms as well. In a third experiment, the researchers placed them in a Y-shaped labyrinth. Rats were trained to find a hidden platform that was associated with one or two specific patterns. The same patterns were designed at one end of the labyrinth using infrared light, and the bionic mice were able to find the hidden platform, whereas normal mice could not.

What is more interesting is that the super infrared vision lasted up to ten weeks with few detrimental effects. "To provide mammals with [near-infrared] vision capability can also pave the way for critical civilian and military applications, "the researchers wrote in the paper. ®

Our thanks to Register reader Simon Zerafa for highlighting the research. You can also contact us here.


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