Engineering a superhero

A contact lens placed on the top of a finger. The lens has a circuit-board and chip around its rim.

28 July 2014


Ever wanted to read someone’s mind, be invisible, fly or be able to see in the dark?

Although some of these powers still only exist in comic books and sci-fi movies, scientists and engineers are developing new innovative technologies to help make your superhero dream a reality. If invisibility is your superpower of choice, you might be in luck: researchers at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), in Germany, have been developing metamaterials that bend light and act as real-life invisibility cloaks. We might not be able to cast spells yet, but this is definitely one step closer towards making the Harry Potter world a reality! If you’ve always wanted to be able to see in the dark, then the new contact lenses designed by engineers at the University of Michigan are what you need. These lenses use graphene sensors to detect infrared light, a part of the light spectrum that we wouldn’t normally be able to see. Infrared vision might be new for us humans but is common in animals that are usually awake at night, such as bats, racoons or mosquitoes. The image below shows an infrared image of a person’s face – no wonder mosquitoes always find us at night.

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