Pop culture is full of superheroes and villains that can see their worlds in infrared. Superman can do it. So can the fearsome Predator. Sadly for us, the ability has remained confined to comics and film. Yes, the human eye is a marvel in itself, but the ability to see beyond the visible spectrum is just not within its capabilities.
However, a group of Chinese scientists might have just changed that, creating an injectable nanoparticle that provides superhuman vision.
Researchers from the University of Science and Technology of China and the University of Massachusetts Medical School developed an “ocular nanoparticle” that can detect near-infrared light (NIR). They then injected it directly into the eyes of mice. Their study, published in Cell on Feb. 28, shows that the mice were given “super vision”, allowing them to see beyond the visible spectrum, without any effects on their regular vision.
Essentially, they created a Supermouse. This is its origin story — and no, it (sadly) does not involve any radioactive spiders.
Mouse eyes, like human eyes, are limited to seeing “visible light”, which makes up just a tiny portion of the electromagnetic spectrum. Typically, our eyes only respond to wavelengths in the spectrum between approximately 400 and 700 nanometers. Wavelengths longer than 700 nanometers are invisible to us and are designated as “infrared” (and even longer wavelengths are things like microwaves and radio waves, which we certainly cannot see).