A Special Place for Blog Lovers with a Touch of Science!

Enjoy our special posts in the fields of Earth & Planetary Sciences (EPS Blog) and Social Sciences & Arts (SSA Blog)

A Special Place for Blog Lovers with a Touch of Science!

Can bacteria make better crack-resistant materials?

Image credit: Qiming Wang, USC Viterbi School of Engineering

Researchers harness the power of living organisms to make new materials


Biological systems can harness living cells for growth and regeneration, but engineering systems cannot -- or couldn't until now.

Qiming Wang and other researchers at the University of Southern California Viterbi School of Engineering are harnessing living bacteria to create engineering materials that are strong and resilient. The U.S. National Science Foundation-funded research is published in Advanced Materials.


The marriage between synthetic and organic materials

"The materials are living and self-growing," said Wang. "We have been amazed by the sophisticated microstructures of natural materials for centuries, especially after microscopes were invented to observe these tiny structures. Now we take an important step forward. We use living bacteria as a tool to directly grow structures that cannot be made on our own."

The researchers work with specific bacteria known for secreting an enzyme called urease. When urease is exposed to urea and calcium ions, it produces calcium carbonate, a strong mineral compound found in bones or teeth. "The key innovation in our research," said Wang, "is that we guide the bacteria to grow calcium carbonate minerals to achieve microstructures similar to those in the natural mineralized composites."

Wang added that "bacteria know how to save time and energy. They have their own intelligence, and we can harness their smartness to design hybrid materials that are superior to fully synthetic options."

By combining living bacteria and synthetic materials, Wang said, this new living material demonstrates mechanical properties superior to that of any natural or synthetic material currently in use.

"The hybrid material these researchers have come up with harnesses guided biomineralization in a way that is novel and exciting," said Nakhiah Goulbourne, a program director in NSF's Directorate for Engineering. "This could have important implications for civil infrastructure and other structural materials."

Source: NSF

×
Stay Informed

When you subscribe to the blog, we will send you an e-mail when there are new updates on the site so you wouldn't miss them.

Easter Island Heads mystery revealed
Quotes to reflect on: Simone de Beauvoir

Related Posts

EPS Recent Posts

06 February 2023
Earth & Planetary Sciences (EPS)
Credit: Getty images Significant advance for technologies such as quantum optics and laser displays for augmented and virtual reality As technologies keep advancing at exponential rates and demand for new devices rises accordingly, miniaturizing syst...
54 Hits
03 February 2023
Earth & Planetary Sciences (EPS)
Credit: Getty images Where do we come from? The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) launched on Christmas Day 2021, is already transforming our understanding of planets in our Solar System and far beyond. A versatile satellite observatory, JWST has a c...
34 Hits
30 January 2023
Earth & Planetary Sciences (EPS)
Credit: Nanostructures built using software that lets researchers design objects out of DNA. Models (top) with electron microscope images of the objects (bottom); Raghu Pradeep Narayanan and Abhay Prasad, Yan lab, Arizona State University Software le...
53 Hits