MAY 06, 2021 9:17 AM PDT

New 3D printed biomaterial paves the way for artificial leaves

A study published in the journal Advanced Functional Materials highlights a new bioprinting technique that can be used to 3D-print algae into living materials. The research comes from a team of scientists from the University of Rochester and Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands who intend to disrupt the energy, fashion, and medical industries with their biomimetic and photosynthetic materials.

"Three-dimensional printing is a powerful technology for fabrication of living functional materials that have a huge potential in a wide range of environmental and human-based applications." says first author Srikkanth Balasubramanian, who is a postdoctoral research associate at Delft. "We provide the first example of an engineered photosynthetic material that is physically robust enough to be deployed in real-life applications."

The material is composed of two parts. The first is the “paper,” which is a non-living bacterial cellulose that boasts a range of important mechanical properties, such as flexibility, toughness, strength, and ability to retain its shape. The second part, the “ink,” is the living microalgae that is printed onto the bacterial cellulose. The outcome is a material that is both photosynthetic (from the algae) and tough (from the cellulose), as well as biodegradable. “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,” reports Science Daily.

The research team says that the material could be used in products like photosynthetic bio-garments, artificial leaves, or even photosynthetic skins. "For artificial leaves, our materials are like taking the 'best parts' of plants -- the leaves -- which can create sustainable energy, without needing to use resources to produce parts of plants -- the stems and the roots -- that need resources but don't produce energy," says Anne S. Meyer, an associate professor of biology at Rochester. "We are making a material that is only focused on the sustainable production of energy."

"Our living materials are promising because they can survive for several days with no water or nutrients access, and the material itself can be used as a seed to grow new living materials," says Delft associate professor of nanoscience Marie-Eve Aubin-Tam. "This opens the door to applications in remote areas, even in space, where the material can be seeded on site."

Sources: Advanced Functional Materials, Science Daily

About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
You May Also Like
AUG 26, 2021
Chemistry & Physics
The Most Detailed Map of the Andromeda Galaxy taken by Radio Telescope
AUG 26, 2021
The Most Detailed Map of the Andromeda Galaxy taken by Radio Telescope
Sitting at 2.5 million light-years away, the Andromeda Galaxy is the closest galaxy to our own Milky Way. Since it&rsquo ...
OCT 01, 2021
Cannabis Sciences
Smartphone Technology Could Help Predict Cannabis Intoxication
OCT 01, 2021
Smartphone Technology Could Help Predict Cannabis Intoxication
Cannabis use can affect the body in a range of ways, including slowing response time. A slower response time affects our ...
OCT 13, 2021
Chemistry & Physics
The Nobel Prize in Chemistry
OCT 13, 2021
The Nobel Prize in Chemistry
It's Nobel Prize season, and the third to be awarded was in the field of Chemistry. The winners were two men working on ...
OCT 21, 2021
Earth & The Environment
Over 99%: The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change Confirmed, Again
OCT 21, 2021
Over 99%: The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change Confirmed, Again
The scientific consensus on human-caused climate change is overwhelming. A recent study published this week in Envi ...
NOV 18, 2021
Chemistry & Physics
Observing Iron Under Extreme Pressure
NOV 18, 2021
Observing Iron Under Extreme Pressure
Iron is an essential component of many specialized materials. In research, we subject it to extreme conditions daily to ...
DEC 01, 2021
Space & Astronomy
The Two Closest Supermassive Black Holes
DEC 01, 2021
The Two Closest Supermassive Black Holes
A team of international researchers have observed the center of galaxy NGC 7727 and found two supermassive black holes ( ...
Loading Comments...