Everybody’s dream is about to become a reality. Robot uprising? No problem. Hordes of zombies? Child’s play. Thanks to a new breakthrough in comic book technology, you’ll vaporize them all with your laser beam eyes.
Disclaimer: no you won’t. Researchers at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland have been developing an ultra-thin and flexible laser that is small and light enough to fit onto a contact lens. The team, consisting of Professors Malte Gather, Graham Turnbull, and Ifor Samuel, say the laser will be applicable as a device for security, biophotonics (the study of optics in living things), and Photomedicine (the application of light particles with regards to health). Their research and findings are published in Nature Communications.
The membrane laser meets the requirements for safe operation in the human eye and has been tested using a cow’s eye, a common substitute due to its similar structure. It’s also possible to place it on objects such as paper money, where it can be adjusted to project an image like a bar code – one way to ensure authenticity. The same method can be applied in high-security environments that conduct ocular scans on employees. “Our work represents a new milestone in laser development,” says Professor Gather, “and, in particular, points the way to how lasers can be used in inherently soft and ductile environments, be it in wearable sensors or as an authentication feature on banknotes.” It follows that they can also be placed on anything a person might wear or carry with them – it doesn’t have to be contact lenses.
Commercial distribution of these membranes would be cheap and efficient with roll-to-roll nanoimprints and inkjet printers, allowing companies and even federal agencies to use them with ease. And again, no, there is no risk of being annihilated by the Men in Black. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go fire my laser.