Human-machine interfaces are constantly improving, but our inability to fully integrate electronics into our bodies stems in part from the very nature of that word — electronics. For the most part, machines relay information using electrons, but living systems use protons and ions. Now a new proton-based transistor built partly from crab shells could open the gates to a new method of communication between machines and biological systems.
Optical signals could be used instead of electrical signals to stimulate cells in the body, scientists say. In a new study, researchers at the University of Utah used brief, low-power light pulses to control the actions of inner-ear cells, potentially leading to therapies that let those with auditory disorders hear the light.