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.
"I f***ing cannot play Halo 2 multiplayer. I cannot do it." -- Bungie Technical Lead Chris Butcher
Temple University Researchers Hit the Delete Button on HIV, Remove it from Human Cells
July 22, 2014, 7:39 AM
Airbus Shows Off All-Electric E-Fan 2.0 Airplane, Plans Production in 2017
July 21, 2014, 9:29 AM
Buzz Aldrin Says First Astronauts to Set Foot on Mars Should Never Return Home
July 9, 2014, 9:46 AM
Women May Soon Be Able to Control Their Fertility via Remote Control
July 7, 2014, 10:14 AM
Tiny "Bio-bots" Powered by Muscle Cells, Electrical Pulses
July 3, 2014, 7:00 PM
Boston Using Solar-Powered Benches as Phone Charging Stations
July 1, 2014, 1:09 PM
Most Popular Articles
Microsoft Kills Entertainment Unit, May Shelve Flagship Lumia "McLaren"
July 18, 2014, 7:40 PM
Boeing 777 Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 Crashes in Ukraine
July 17, 2014, 1:00 PM
Google Signs Controversial Deal With Pharmaceutical Giant Novartis
July 16, 2014, 7:32 PM
Toyota Scientist: Autonomous Vehicles May Lead to Increased Fuel Consumption, Pollution
July 18, 2014, 2:42 PM
JJ Abrams Unveils X-Wing Starfighter for New "Star Wars" Movie
July 21, 2014, 12:24 PM
Latest Blog Posts
Space Terrorism is a Looming Threat For the United States
Apr 23, 2014, 7:47 PM
Facebook Aims to Provide Internet to "Every Person in the World" with Drones, Satellites
Apr 1, 2014, 10:20 AM
Retail Mobile Sites Experience Outages in Light of Simplexity's Bankruptcy
Mar 14, 2014, 8:48 AM
Tesla vs. BMW: Who Has the Safer EV?
Feb 1, 2014, 2:56 PM
Justice Leaks Details of Next HTC One Two Flagship Phone
Dec 5, 2013, 4:04 PM
More Blog Posts
Copyright 2014 DailyTech LLC. -
Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information