Surgeons who used lasers to perform a surgical procedure in the ear discovered that they were able to stimulate the nerve cells there to send an electrical message back to the brain.
Exactly why this happens is unclear, although Dr Richter believes that the heat that accompanies the light may be responsible.
However, the narrow beam possible using light rather than an electrode offers the possibility of a far more precise targeting of these neurons.
He shone infrared light into the neurons of deaf guinea pigs, while measuring electrical activity in a nerve “relay” between the inner ear and the brain.
This seems like a nice result, and kinda to have been expected. But also possibly rather difficult to exploit. We have lots of nice nonmechanical ways of varying the frequency, and amplitude of laser beams, but not so much the direction. Although you could probably just fabricate an array of little IR lasers and be done with it…