MIT Creates Hybrid Materials with Living, Non-Living Components
March 24, 2014 9:02 PM
comment(s) - last by
It's E.coli mixed with nonliving elements that can emit light or conduct electricity
MIT researchers are combining living and non-living ingredients to create self-assembling or self-healing materials.
, the MIT team combined E.coli bacteria with gold nanoparticles in an effort to make hybrid materials that are functional but also contain living cells. The idea was to make cells communicate with one another so that they can change the composition of the material over time.
More specifically, the researchers wanted to replicate natural processes, like the way bone generates a material in response to environmental signals.
E.coli was chosen because of its biofilms, which have sticky amyloid proteins -- called curli fibres -- that glue the bacteria on to other proteins in the body. These adhesive qualities allow other cells to stick to the E.coli and become integrated.
A bacterial cell engineered to produce amyloid nanofibers that integrate gold nanoparticles or quantum dots (red and green spheres) [SOURCE: MIT]
An important part of this process is the extracellular CsgA protein, which is found in curli fibres and has the ability to self-assemble. When peptides are added, CsgA can be modified to collect and then self-assemble other materials. This allows engineers to control it with different "trigger" molecules.
The E.coli was made to produce CsgA, which contains peptides made up of the amino acid histidine whenever a certain molecule is present. Histidine particles would then cling to the added gold nanoparticles, and the gold forms a network because of the self-assembly characteristics of the amino acid particles.
This made the E.coli conductive, and any number of peptides could be used to manipulate the living cell in different ways.
Combining the living and non-living materials could create smart materials, like self-assembling/self-healing batteries, medical diagnostic sensors, and solar cells.
"It's an interesting way of thinking about materials synthesis, which is very different from what people do now, which is usually a top-down approach," said Timothy Lu, lead author on the paper.
The paper was published in
This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled
3/25/2014 3:14:24 AM
A science article? No Wai!
RE: Oh snap
3/25/2014 5:19:20 AM
Rush did say this was a science website. (Rush of the Limbaugh variety, not the Canadian prog-rock variety, that is)
RE: Oh snap
3/25/2014 2:29:40 PM
Of all the content published on DT, the ones dealing with science are my favorite. If only they'd write more dealing with physics discoveries.
"There's no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance." -- Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer
Cool Science Video: Glowing Millipede Prowls the Nevada Desert
May 18, 2015, 12:00 PM
Newly Discovered Costa Rican Glass Frog is Kermit's Doppelgänger
April 22, 2015, 11:26 AM
Researchers Hope to Find "Exotic" Lifeforms Inside Crater of Dinosaur Killing Meteor
April 14, 2015, 8:47 PM
Mathematician's Sociological Formulation May Explain the "Hipster Paradox"
April 14, 2015, 1:13 PM
Cool Science Video: This is What a McDonald's Burger Looks Like in Your Stomach
April 7, 2015, 1:43 PM
Fraud Artist Engineered Stunning UK Jailbreak Via Typosquatting, Email
April 4, 2015, 2:57 PM
Most Popular Articles
America's Largest Cable Company, Comcast, Sees Internet Subscriptions Pass TV
May 4, 2015, 2:46 PM
Hot Microsoft Lumia 940 Shows Off Benchmark, Fall Launch w/ Windows 10 Eyed
May 29, 2015, 7:15 PM
Editorial: Apple Say Watch is "Not [Selling] Enough" -- What's Gone Wrong?
May 29, 2015, 11:11 AM
Study Shows Prior Owner's Data is Easy to Recover From Used Android Phones
May 26, 2015, 9:54 PM
Samsung and Marvel Team Up for Slick Iron Man Avengers GS6 Edge
May 27, 2015, 10:54 PM
Latest Blog Posts
Sceptre Airs 27", 120 Hz. 1080p Monitor/HDTV w/ 5 ms Response Time for $220
Dec 3, 2014, 10:32 PM
Costco Gives Employees Thanksgiving Off; Wal-Mart Leads "Black Thursday" Charge
Oct 29, 2014, 9:57 PM
"Bear Selfies" Fad Could Turn Deadly, Warn Nevada Wildlife Officials
Oct 28, 2014, 12:00 PM
The Surface Mini That Was Never Released Gets "Hands On" Treatment
Sep 26, 2014, 8:22 AM
ISIS Imposes Ban on Teaching Evolution in Iraq
Sep 17, 2014, 5:22 PM
More Blog Posts
Copyright 2015 DailyTech LLC. -
Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information