Ulsan National Institute of Science & Technology (UNIST), South Korea, has created contact lenses fitted with inorganic light-emitting diode, and tested them on a live rabbit with no side effects. This new class of hybrid transparent and stretchable electrodes, they say, could pave the way for flexible displays, solar cells, and wearable electronics.

This is an LED fitted soft eye contact lens. (Credit: UNIST)

By combining graphene with silver nanowires to form thin, transparent, and stretchable electrodes, the researchers state that this overcame the weaknesses of each individual material, resulting in a new class of electrodes with a wide range of possible applications including picture taking and scanning using soft contact lenses.

The hybrid material presented good electrical and optical performance with mechanical flexibility and stretchability for flexible electronics. The scientists said that there was almost no change in its resistance when bent and folded. And, the hybrid material preserved its electrical and optical properties against thermal oxidation.

In an in vivo study, the contact lens was worn by a rabbit for five hours with no irritation or ill effects observed.