Engineers at MIT have synthesized a new material that combines living matter with inorganic matter that could eventually be used to create self-healing electronic materials or sensors that can integrate into living bodies.
The team of researchers “reprogrammed” E. coli bacteria so that they produced amyloid proteins that “capture” inorganic materials such as gold nanoparticles and quantum dots. These strings of proteins can then be used as building blocks to create nanowires, nanorods, conductive biofilms, and other materials that are useful in batteries and solar cells.
The journal Nature says this discovery lays the groundwork for “synthesizing, patterning, and controlling functional composite materials with engineered cells.”
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