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IEEE SENSORS JOURNAL, VOL. 11, NO. 7, JULY 2011

Artificial Retina Using Thin-Film Transistors Driven


by Wireless Power Supply
Yuta Miura, Tomohisa Hachida, and Mutsumi Kimura, Member, IEEE

AbstractWe have evaluated an artificial retina using thin-film


transistors driven by wireless power supply. It is found that the
illumination profile can be correctly detected as the output voltage
profile even if it is driven using unstable power source generated
by inductive coupling, diode bridge, and Zener diodes. This means
the feasibility to implant the artificial retina into human eyeballs.
Index TermsArtificial retina,
sistor (TFT), wireless poser supply.

implant, thin-film

tran-

I. INTRODUCTION

RTIFICIAL retinas have been ardently desired to recover the sight sense for sight-handicapped people [1].
Recently, artificial retinas using external cameras, stimulus
electrodes, and three-dimensional large scale integrations
(LSIs) have been actively developed for patients suffering
from retinitis pigmentosa and age-related macular degeneration [2][8]. In these cases, electronic photodevices and circuits
substitute for deteriorated photoreceptor cells. The implant
methods can be classified to four types: epiretinal implant,
subretinal implant, suprachoroidal stimulation, and transretinal
stimulation. Among these implant methods, the epiretinal implant has features that the image resolution can be high because
the stimulus signal can be directly conducted to neuron cells
and that living retinas are not seriously damaged.
In our research, we have proposed an artificial retina using
thin-film transistors (TFTs) [9], [10], which can be fabricated

Manuscript received November 14, 2010; accepted November 28, 2010. Date
of publication December 03, 2010; date of current version May 18, 2011. This
work was supported in part by a collaborative research with Seiko Epson Corporation, research project of the Joint Research Center for Science and Technology
of Ryukoku University, grant for research facility equipment for private universities from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology
(MEXT), grant for special research facilities from the Faculty of Science and
Technology of Ryukoku University, and Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research
from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS). The associate editor coordinating the review of this paper and approving it for publication was
Prof. Gerald Gerlach.
Y. Miura was with the Department of Electronics and Informatics, Ryukoku
University, Seta, Otsu 520-2194, Japan. He is now with the Graduate School of
Materials Science, Nara Institute of Science and Technology, Takayama, Ikoma,
630-0192, Japan (e-mail: t060232@mail.ryukoku.ac.jp).
T. Hachida was with the Department of Electronics and Informatics, Ryukoku
University, Seta, Otsu 520-2194, Japan. He is now with the Graduate School of
Materials Science, Nara Institute of Science and Technology, Takayama, Ikoma,
630-0192, Japan (e-mail: ukkoke1735@hotmail.co.jp).
M. Kimura is with the Department of Electronics and Informatics, Ryukoku
University, Seta, Otsu 520-2194, Japan; the Joint Research Center for Science
and Technology, Ryukoku University, Seta, Otsu 520-2194, Japan; and the Innovative Materials and Processing Research Center, High-Tech Research Center,
Seta, Otsu 520-2194, Japan (e-mail: mutsu@rins.ryukoku.ac.jp).
Color versions of one or more of the figures in this paper are available online
at http://ieeexplore.ieee.org.
Digital Object Identifier 10.1109/JSEN.2010.2096807

on transparent and flexible substrates. The concept model of the


artificial retina fabricated on a transparent and flexible substrate
and implanted using epiretinal implant is shown in Fig. 1. Electronic photodevices and circuits are integrated on the artificial
retina, which is implanted on the inside surface of the living
retina at the back part of the human eyeballs. Since the irradiated
light comes from one side of the artificial retina and the stimulus signal goes out of the other side, the transparent substrate
is preferable. Moreover, since the human eyeballs are curved,
the flexible substrate is also preferable. It is possible to make
spherical shape by designing a petal-like pattern. As a result,
the artificial retina using TFTs are suitable for the epiretinal implant on the curved human eyeballs.
Until now, wired power supply has been used to drive the artificial retina using TFTs to ensure reliable operations. However,
the wired power supply harms quality of life of the sight-handicapped people because of bothersome connection wires between the artificial retina and external equipments. Therefore,
wireless power supply is requisite to eliminate the connection
wires and to realize complete artificial internal organs to improve the quality of life. In this paper, we have evaluated an
artificial retina using TFTs driven by wireless power supply. It
is found that the illumination profile can be correctly detected
as the output voltage profile even if it is driven using unstable
wireless power supply.
II. ARTIFICIAL RETINA USING THIN-FILM TRANSISTORS
The artificial retina using TFTs is fabricated using the same
fabrication processes as conventional poly-Si TFTs [11][13]
and encapsulated using SiO in order to perform in corrosive
environments. Although the artificial retina is fabricated on
the glass substrate here to confirm the elementary functions,
it can be fabricated on the plastic substrate [14]. The artificial retina using TFTs is shown in Fig. 2. The retina array
includes matrix-like multiple retina pixels. Although large
contact pads are located for fundamental evaluation, a principal
part is 27 300 m , which corresponds to 154 ppi. The retina
pixel consists of a photo transistor, current mirror, and load
resistance. The photo transistor is optimized to achieve high
efficiency [15], [16], and the current mirror and load resistance
are designed by considering the transistor characteristic of
TFTs [17]. The photosensitivity of the reverse-biased p/i/n
poly-Si phototransistor is 150 pA at 1000 lx for white light and
proper values for all visible color lights [18]. The field effect
mobility and the threshold voltage of the n-type and p-type
poly-Si TFT were 93 cm V s , 3.6 V, 47 cm V s and
2.9 V, respectively. First, the photo transistor perceives the
irradiated light (Lphoto) and induce the photo-induced current

1530-437X/$26.00 2010 IEEE

MIURA et al.: ARTIFICIAL RETINA USING THIN-FILM TRANSISTORS DRIVEN BY WIRELESS POWER SUPPLY

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Fig. 1. Concept model of the artificial retina fabricated on a transparent and flexible substrate and implanted using epiretinal implant.

Fig. 2. Artificial retina using thin-film transistors.

Fig. 3. Wireless power supply using inductive coupling.

(Iphoto). Next, the current mirror amplifies Iphoto to the mirror


current (Imirror). Finally, the load resistance converts Imirror
to the output voltage (Vout). Consequently, the retina pixels
irradiated with bright light output a higher Vout, whereas the
retina pixels irradiated with darker light output a lower Vout.
III. WIRELESS POWER SUPPLY USING INDUCTIVE COUPLING
The wireless power supply using inductive coupling is shown
in Fig. 3. The right graph in Fig. 3 is a measured stability of the
supply voltage. This system includes a power transmitter, power

receiver, diode bridge, and Zener diodes. The power transmitter


consists of an ac voltage source and induction coil. The Vpp of
the ac voltage source is 10 V, and the frequency is 34 kHz, which
is a resonance frequency of this system. The material of the induction coil is an enameled copper wire, the diameter is 1.8 cm,
and the winding number is 370 times. The power receiver also
consists of an induction coil, which is the same as the power
transmitter and located face to face. The diode bridge rectifies
the ac voltage to the dc voltage, and the Zener diodes regulate the
voltage value. The diode bridge and Zener diodes are discrete
devices and encapsulated in epoxy resin. Although the current

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IEEE SENSORS JOURNAL, VOL. 11, NO. 7, JULY 2011

Fig. 4. Detected result of the illumination profile versus the output voltage profile.

system should be downsized and bio-compatibility has to be inspected, the supply system is in principle very simple to implant
it into human eyeballs. As a result, the generated power is not
so stable as shown in Fig. 3, which may be because the artificial
retina is fabricated on a insulator substrates, has little parasitic
capacitance, and is subject to the influence of noise. Therefore,
it is necessary to confirm whether the artificial retina can be correctly operated even using the unstable power source.
IV. DETECTED RESULT OF ILLUMINATION PROFILE
The artificial retina with the wireless power supply system is
located in a light-shield chamber, and Vout in each retina pixel
is probed by a manual prober and voltage meter. White light
from a metal halide lamp is diaphragmmed by a pinhole slit, focused through a convex lens, reflected by a triangular prism and
irradiated through the glass substrate to the back surfaces of the
artificial retina on a rubber spacer. The real image of the pinhole
slit is reproduced on the back surface. The detected result of the
Lphoto profile versus the Vout profile is shown in Fig. 4. It is
found that the Lphoto profile can be correctly detected as the
Vout profile even if it is driven using the unstable power source,
although shape distortion is slightly observed, which is due to
the misalignment of the optical system or characteristic variation of TFTs.
V. CONCLUSION
We have evaluated an artificial retina using TFTs driven by
wireless power supply. It was found that the Lphoto profile can
be correctly detected as the Vout profile even if it is driven using
unstable power source generated by inductive coupling, diode
bridge, and Zener diodes. In order to apply the artificial retina
to an actual artificial internal organ, we should further develop
a pulse signal generator appropriate as photorecepter cells, consider the interface between the stimulus electrodes and neuron
cells, investigate the dependence of Vout on Lphoto, which realizes grayscale sensing, etc. However, we think that the above
result means the feasibility to implant the artificial retina into
human eyeballs.
ACKNOWLEDGMENT
The authors would like to thank Dr. H. Hara, Dr. S. Inoue,
Dr. H. Fukushima, and Dr. T. Kamakura of Seiko Epson;
Dr. S. Koide, Dr. Y. Kobashi, and Dr. T. Ito of Epson Imaging
Devices; Dr. T. Munakata of Jedat, and some members in
Mutsu laboratory of Ryukoku University.

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Yuta Miura received the B.E. degree in electronics


and informatics from Ryukoku University, Otsu,
Japan, in 2010.
He had been working on research and development
of artificial retinas using thin-film transistors (TFTs).
He is currently a graduate student at Nara Institute of
Science and Technology, Ikoma, Japan.

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Tomohisa Hachida received the B.E. degree in electronics and informatics from Ryukoku University,
Otsu, Japan, in 2009.
He had been working on research and development
of artificial retinas using thin-film transistors (TFTs).
He is currently a graduate student at Nara Institute of
Science and Technology, Ikoma, Japan.

Mutsumi Kimura (M10) received the B.E. and


M.E. degrees in physical engineering from Kyoto
University, Japan, in 1989 and 1991, respectively,
and the Ph.D. degree in electrical and electric engineering from the Tokyo University of Agriculture
and Technology, Tokyo, Japan, in 2001.
He joined the Matsushita Electric Industrial Company, Ltd., in 1991 and Seiko Epson Corporation in
1995. He joined Ryukoku University, Otsu, Japan,
in 2003. He has been working on thin-film transistor (TFT) characteristic analysis, TFT simulator
development, TFT-OLED development, and their advanced applications.
Dr. Kimura is a member of the Society for Information Display (SID), the
Japan Society of Applied Physics (JSAP), and the Institute of Electronics, Information and Communication Engineers (EIC). He is also a Chair or Member of
the Technical Committee of the IEEE Electron Devices Society Kansai Chapter,
the steering and program committee of AM-FPD, the AMD workshop of IDW,
and the organizing committee of the Thin Film Materials and Devices Meeting.
He received the Outstanding Poster Paper Award of Asia Display/IDW 2001,
the Best Paper Award of AM-LCD 2005, the Best Paper Award of the Fourth
Thin Film Materials and Devices Meeting, the Outstanding Poster Paper Award
of IDW 2007, the Outstanding Poster Paper Award of IDW 2009, and the 2010
Materials and Structures Laboratory Directors Award.