Special BBI Seminar: Steven Prawer
Thursday, November 14, 2019
1107 Kim Engineering Building
Speaker: Dr. Steven Prawer, University of Melbourne
Title: The Diamond Eye: Architecture and Reduction to Practice
Abstract: Degenerative diseases of the retina such as age-related macular degeneration and retinitis pigmentosa destroy the photoreceptors in the retina but leave intact the neural network of ganglion cells that form the optic nerve. Via direct electrical stimulation of these ganglion cells it is possible to elicit visual percepts in the brain, known as phosphenes. Retinal implants which use electrical stimulation to restore a sense of vision are now a reality for a growing number of users worldwide. Nevertheless, visual acuities provided by the current generation of devices are low. The quantity of information transferable to the retina using existing implant technologies is limited, far below receptor cells’ capabilities. Many agree that increasing the information density deliverable by a retinal prosthesis requires devices with stimulation electrodes that are both dense and numerous. This work describes a new generation of retinal prostheses capable of upscaling the information density conveyable to the retina. Centered on engineered diamond materials, the implant is very well tolerated and long-term stable in the eye’s unique physiological environment and capable of delivering highly versatile stimulation waveforms – both key attributes in providing useful vision. Delivery of high-density information, close to the retina with the flexibility to alter stimulation parameters in situ provides the best chance for success in providing high acuity prosthetic vision.
Bio: Steven Prawer has a worldwide reputation in advanced diamond science and technology with over 30 years of experience and over 390 scientific publications. His particular focus has been the merging of the areas of nanoscience and neuroscience to push the boundaries of bionic devices, and he has been the recipient of numerous awards including the Lady Davis Visiting Professorship, the David Syme Research Prize, a Fulbright Senior visiting fellowship, a visiting fellowship at Woolfson College in Oxford, and the Royal Society of Victoria Research medal. In 2010, Professor Prawer was elected to the Australian Academy of Science in recognition of his seminal contributions to diamond science and technology