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Electronics: Scientists Create 'Bionic Ear' with 3-D Printer at Princeton University

May 02, 2013 10:19 AM EDT by Michael Briggs

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Scientists at Princeton University's School of Engineering have created a 'bionic' ear using 3D printing of cells and nanoparticles. The catch? None—it even hears frequencies that the normal human ear can't.

The creation was the first time scientists have ever been able to successfully use 3D printing technology to merge tissue with electronics. 

The researchers wrote in the journal Nano Letters:

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"The design and implementation of bionic organs and devices that enhance human capabilities, known as cybernetics, has been an area of increasing scientific interest. This field has the potential to generate customised replacement parts for the human body, or even create organs containing capabilities beyond what human biology ordinarily provides."

The team merged a matrix of hydrogel and calf cells with silver nanoparticles to make an antenna. The calf cells then formed into cartilage. 

In a recent ESPN: The Magazine article, the sports media publication pictured a future where fans could order up their favorite ballpark foods from home. It seems that techonology isn't that far away, and progressing toward more important developments. Last week, the world's first printed dress was modeled. The printed ear represents an even bigger step.

Though the 'bionic ear' is far from use on a patient, one day scientists hope they can use 3-D printing technology to enhance the lives of those who are in need.

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