MIT researchers engineer cells to produce conductive materials

Posted: March 24, 2014 in The Juice


A group of “living materials” announced by MIT researchers today can change their own composition over time in ways that could allow them to become part of future electronics designs, thanks to the incorporation of bacterial cells that respond to changes in their environment. The researchers will publish their work in Nature Materials today.

The materials are made by E. coli bacteria, which naturally produce thin layers of cells known as biofilm. E. coli biofilms contain fibers that usually help the film grab onto surfaces, but a part of the fibers can also capture non-living molecules and incorporate them into the film. The researchers were able to engineer E. coli with different types of fibers, allowing them to determine what type of non-living molecule the fibers captured.

By adding materials like gold nanoparticles or quantum dots, the MIT team could then add different properties to the film. Gold nanoparticles, for…

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