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3D printed bionic ear

posted 27 April 2015 at 18:54:42

We’ve been hearing about the great advances that have been made in 3D printing metal and plastic implants to replace and repair bones and joints. But just as fascinating are the emerging technologies around bioprinting, where live cells are used as the ‘ink’ for printing living tissue. The prototype ‘bionic’ ear pictured here, developed by researchers at Princeton University in the USA, is an amazing interweaving of electronic and biological materials. The ear is formed from a 3D printed hydrogel scaffold containing living cartilage and embedded silver nanoparticles to form an antenna, allowing wearers to ‘hear’ radio frequencies. In the future, a device like this could restore human hearing, and then go one step further and enhance what the normal human ear can hear.  

 Picture: Frank Wojciechowski/Princeton University