MIT scientists engineer cells that talk to each other

The living and the non-living worlds are not so incompatible after all.

A group of researchers have now designed “living materials” by incorporating red and green quantum dots (nanocrystals made from semiconducting materials) and gold nanoparticles within E. coli biofilms.

The findings of the study were published in a paper titled “Synthesis and patterning of tunable multiscale materials with engineered cells” in the journal Nature Materials.

Using this technique, researchers 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,” says Lu. “Our idea is to put the living and the nonliving worlds together to make hybrid materials that have living cells in them and are functional.”

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