Engineers at MIT have been combining gold particles with E.coli cells in order to have cells that are conductive and they have been attaching them through the use of biofilms that are “sticky”.
The goal of this is to eventually have applications, which would include batteries, being able “heal” themselves, and potentially even have medical diagnostic cells join a pill on the way down to provide even better details on a person’s health or with curing a specific ailment.
“It shows that you can make cells that talk to each other and they can change the composition of the material over time,” said Timothy Lu, who is the lead author on Nature Materials, which is a paper which describes this technique. “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.”
“Our idea is to put the living and the non-living worlds together to make hybrid materials that have living cells in them and are functional,” Lu also adds. “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.”