Living materials based on bacteria and grown in a Boston lab could point to a greener way of manufacturing.
In future, complex and interactive structures could be grown using cells programmed to assemble into intricate patterns, the researchers argue.
They describe patterned biofilms made from proteins tougher than steel, designed to incorporate semiconducting crystals and electrical wiring.
Their research is published in Nature Materials.
The living biofilms are the creation of synthetic biologist Timothy Lu and his team at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
They are a marriage of advanced techniques in genetic engineering, which reprogramme a cell’s function, and the kind of protein chemistry that underlies the biofilm gloss we find on our teeth.
“Our vision is to create living materials, in which living cells grow, lay down biopolymers and control the inorganic compounds around them,” Professor Lu explained.
“Just imagine what we could achieve if we could grow physical devices and structures from bottom up using cells and minimal inputs, rather than manufacture and shape them from top down.”. Read the rest of this entry »