May 3, 2021
Living materials, which are made by housing biological cells within a nonliving matrix, have gained popularity in recent years as scientists recognize that often the most robust materials are those that mimic nature.
For the first time, researchers at 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. The research is published in the journal Advanced Functional Materials.
“Three-dimensional printing has shown to be an effective technology for fabricating living materials that have many environmental and other benefits,” says Anne S. Meyer, an associate professor of biology at Rochester. “Our photosynthetic living materials are a huge step forward for the field since they are the first example of an engineered photosynthetic material that is physically robust enough to be deployed for real-world applications.”
The work to develop a biologically based material is the latest in a series of research efforts led by Meyer’s lab. Meyer and her research team have been leaders in using bacteria to develop such industrially important materials as artificial nacre and graphene.