Engineering Living Functional Materials

Allen Y. Chen, Chao Zhong, Timothy K. Lu
<span title="2015-01-16">2015</span> <i title="American Chemical Society (ACS)"> <a target="_blank" rel="noopener" href="" style="color: black;">ACS Synthetic Biology</a> </i> &nbsp;
Natural materials, such as bone, integrate living cells composed of organic molecules together with inorganic components. This enables combinations of functionalities, such as mechanical strength and the ability to regenerate and remodel, which are not present in existing synthetic materials. Taking a cue from nature, we propose that engineered 'living functional materials' and 'living materials synthesis platforms' that incorporate both living systems and inorganic components could transform
more &raquo; ... e performance and the manufacturing of materials. As a proof-of-concept, we recently demonstrated that synthetic gene circuits in Escherichia coli enabled biofilms to be both a functional material in its own right and a materialssynthesis platform. To demonstrate the former, we engineered E. coli biofilms into a chemical-inducer-responsive electrical switch. To demonstrate the latter, we engineered E. coli biofilms to dynamically organize biotic-abiotic materials across multiple length scales, template gold nanorods, gold nanowires, and metal/semiconductor heterostructures, and synthesize semiconductor nanoparticles (Chen, A. Y. et al. (2014) Synthesis and patterning of tunable multiscale materials with engineered cells. Nat. Mater. 13, 515−523.). Thus, tools from synthetic biology, such as those for artificial gene regulation, can be used to engineer the spatiotemporal characteristics of living systems and to interface living systems with inorganic materials. Such hybrids can possess novel properties enabled by living cells while retaining desirable functionalities of inorganic systems. These systems, as living functional materials and as living materials foundries, would provide a radically different paradigm of materials performance and synthesis−materials possessing multifunctional, self-healing, adaptable, and evolvable properties that are created and organized in a distributed, bottom-up, autonomously assembled, and environmentally sustainable manner.
<span class="external-identifiers"> <a target="_blank" rel="external noopener noreferrer" href="">doi:10.1021/sb500113b</a> <a target="_blank" rel="external noopener" href="">pmid:25592034</a> <a target="_blank" rel="external noopener" href="">pmcid:PMC4304442</a> <a target="_blank" rel="external noopener" href="">fatcat:qccbq32fsbd3nnqxrj24riwvpm</a> </span>
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