It will still be a while before scientists are able to harness Superman-like laser vision, but the technology is now closer than ever before thanks to a new development from the University of St Andrews. The team there have created an ultra-thin membrane laser using organic semiconductors, which is for the first time compatible with the requirements for safe operation in the human eye. Even though the membrane is super thin and flexible, it’s durable, and will retain its optical properties even after several months spent attached to another object, such as a bank note or, more excitingly, a contact lens.
The ocular laser, which has so far been tested on cow eyes, is able to identify sharp lines on a flat background — the ones and zeros of a digital barcode — and could be harnessed for new applications in security, biophotonics and photomedicine. Team member Professor Malte Gather said: “Our work represents a new milestone in laser development and, in particular, points the way to how lasers can be used in inherently soft and ductile environments, be it in wearable sensors or as an authentication feature on bank notes.”
This article originally appeared on Engadget.