Thursday, 13 May 2021

Will your future clothes be made of algae?


 

Living materials, which are made by housing biological cells within a non-living matrix, have gained popularity in recent years as scientists recognize that often the most robust materials are those that mimic nature.

 

An international team of researchers from the University of Rochester and Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands used 3D printers and a novel bioprinting technique to print algae into living, photosynthetic materials that are tough and resilient. The material has a variety of applications in the energy, medical, and fashion sectors.

 

To create the photosynthetic materials, the researchers began with a non-living bacterial cellulose -- an organic compound that is produced and excreted by bacteria. Bacterial cellulose has many unique mechanical properties, including its flexibility, toughness, strength, and ability to retain its shape, even when twisted, crushed, or otherwise physically distorted.

 

The bacterial cellulose is like the paper in a printer, while living microalgae acts as the ink. The researchers used a 3D printer to deposit living algae onto the bacterial cellulose.

 

The combination of living (microalgae) and nonliving (bacterial cellulose) components resulted in a unique material that has the photosynthetic quality of the algae and the robustness of the bacterial cellulose; the material is tough and resilient while also eco-friendly, biodegradable, and simple and scalable to produce. The plant-like nature of the material means it can use photosynthesis to "feed" itself over periods of many weeks, and it is also able to be regenerated -- a small sample of the material can be grown on-site to make more materials.

 

The unique characteristics of the material make it an ideal candidate for a variety of applications, including new products such as artificial leaves, photosynthetic skins, or photosynthetic bio-garments.

 

See:

 

Srikkanth Balasubramanian, Kui Yu, Anne S. Meyer, Elvin Karana, Marie‐Eve Aubin‐Tam. Bioprinting of Regenerative Photosynthetic Living MaterialsAdvanced Functional Materials, 2021; 2011162 DOI: 10.1002/adfm.202011162


 

Posted by Dr. Tim Sandle, Pharmaceutical Microbiology Resources (http://www.pharmamicroresources.com/)

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