Princeton University has developed a method to create working bionic ears.
The bionic ear is created using 3D printing with a mixture of calf cells, hydrogel and an integrated, coiled antenna made from silver nanoparticles. The ear is not as pleasing to the eye as it is practical but we’re getting there! We’re one step closer to creating human organ implants. As of now, the bionic ear can only hear radio frequencies but this new discovery proves that we can mash organic and technological materials together.
Michael McAlpine, is an assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at Princeton University and is the project’s lead researcher. The University released a statement last week.
"The finished ear consists of a coiled antenna inside a cartilage structure. Two wires lead from the base of the ear and wind around a helical "cochlea" – the part of the ear that senses sound – which can connect to electrodes. Although McAlpine cautions that further work and extensive testing would need to be done before the technology could be used on a patient, he said the ear in principle could be used to restore or enhance human hearing. He said electrical signals produced by the ear could be connected to a patient's nerve endings, similar to a hearing aid." – Princeton
Princeton is working to create a more anesthetically pleasing model with functional human hearing abilities. If this succeeds, it will most likely be used as a hearing aid. This bionic ear not only has the ability to restore but can also enhance hearing.