According to the researchers, this device works by using miniature solar cells that power the processing retinal chip.
To capture the image, the system includes a video camera, a bright near-infrared LCD screen and a pocket PC to process the image in real time. The LCD screen generates enough light to enter the eye and charge the photovoltaic cell.
The chip is very tiny, having a width of just 3mm and 3 layers that are 30 micrometers thick altogether. Each layer has three photovoltaic cells of different sizes and is flexibly mounted on the retina using 300 nanometre (0.0003mm) thick silicon posts.
The self-powered implant gives 20/100 vision, being sufficient to read large print and recognize faces. For the moment the quality of vision provided by the rig is limited, but the fact that scientists have found an innovative way to deliver both images and power in the same package is a relative breakthrough.