facebook
twitter
rss
account
search
search
 

MIT engineers create manufacturing materials half-inanimate, half-alive

MIT researchers were able to bioengineer E. coli -- outfitted with gold and tiny crystals -- to naturally create rows of gold nanowires, a network that conducts electricity.
By Brooks Hays   |   March 25, 2014 at 11:06 AM   |   Comments

March 25 (UPI) -- Engineers at MIT have created "living materials," combining the advantages of living cells with the functionality of nonliving materials.

Living cells are able to respond to their environment, synthesize new organic compounds, and are easily scalable. While inanimate materials can offer practical benefits, like light emission or electricity.

By taking the best of both worlds -- the biotic and the inanimate -- scientists hope they'll be able to design more complex and versatile devices and technology, such as solar cells, self-healing materials, or diagnostic sensors.

"Our idea is to put the living and the nonliving worlds together to make hybrid materials that have living cells in them and are functional," said Timothy Lu, an assistant professor of electrical engineering and biological engineering at MIT. "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."

Lu's research into living materials is detailed in the latest issue of Nature Materials.

Lu and his fellow researchers were able to bioengineer E. coli -- outfitted with gold and tiny crystals -- to naturally create rows of gold nanowires, a network that conducts electricity.

"It shows that indeed you can make cells that talk to each other and they can change the composition of the material over time," Lu said. "Ultimately, we hope to emulate how natural systems, like bone, form. No one tells bone what to do, but it generates a material in response to environmental signals."


[Massachusetts Institute of Technology]

© 2014 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
Most Popular
1
Android phones to join iPhone in saying no to the police Android phones to join iPhone in saying no to the police
2
NASA launches project to get citizens involved in Mars exploration NASA launches project to get citizens involved in Mars exploration
3
Perth's first iPhone buyer immediately drops brand new phone on live TV Perth's first iPhone buyer immediately drops brand new phone on live TV
4
Dogs are the favorite food of leopards in rural India Dogs are the favorite food of leopards in rural India
5
U.S. official warns of the multi-billion dollar cost of climate change U.S. official warns of the multi-billion dollar cost of climate change
Trending News
Video
x
Feedback