Skip to content

ADAI – Adaptive Artificial Iris

Fau University of Erlangen (Germany)

The demonstrator aims to present the feasibility and functionality of dielectric elastomer actuators as artificial muscles in application as an active medical implant. A demonstrator of a functional bionic iris driven by artificial muscles based on printed dielectric elastomer actuators. In the setup, the human iris is mimicked by a dielectric elastomer actuator fabricated using a modified aerosol jet printing process. Properties such as lightweight and high flexibility make it a promising technology for active medical implants.

The demonstrator has been created as part of the ADAI project and lays the foundation for the development of a functional iris implant. In this demonstrator, aerosol jet printing is used to layer insulating two-component silicone in alternating layers with conductive particle electrodes to produce dielectric elastomers that have a similar structure to plate capacitors. Once a voltage is applied to the actuator, its surface expands in the X and Y directions while its thickness decreases. This changes the size of the pupil and reduces the amount of light entering it. When the voltage is switched off, the actuator returns to its original state due to the elastic properties of the material. Light exposure is monitored by illumination sensors inside the eye, which are interconnected in a bio-cybernetic control loop. For demonstration purposes, the setup reacts with with a contraction of the iris as soon as light from a light source shines into the interior from the front.

Target Group

  • Introduction of dielectric elastomers as functional medical implants
  • Healthcare
  • Soft Robotics

Attractiveness of the Product

  • Currently, there is no functional iris implant on the market that combines the cosmetic and functional aspects. The iris implant is therefore the only one of its kind.
  • Brings an enormous technological advance.
  • Further disease patterns can be treated by the extension of currently researched modules, which makes the technology suitable for a larger group of patients.

Printed Electronics Components

  • Printed actuator
  • Printed dielectric/ insulator
  • Printed electrode

Funding Source