We’ve been hearing a lot about 3D printing lately but now 3D printing can hear us. The folks at Princeton University, USA have printed a human ear which detects sound waves.
At the moment the ear can only ‘hear’ radio waves that are beyond the range of human hearing but the clever part is that it could be connected to the human brain. Well that already has applications for people with hearing loss but the aim is to make the ear detect audible sound too.
The ear consists of a coiled antenna inside a cartilage structure. Wires from the base of the ear are wound around the cochlea and this can be connected to electrodes.
The technique involved an ordinary 3D printer – which combines a hydrogel and calf cells with silver to form an antenna, the calf cells develop into cartilage.