“Living composite materials: Living cells, polymer scaffolds, and engineered proteins”
Living cells possess ideal attributes for creating emergent materials: they can assemble, communicate, adapt to variable environments, and can be programmed to perform novel functions with tools from synthetic biology. My postdoctoral work at Caltech aims to build composite materials with living cells, understand the interaction between each component, and find design principles for developing a platform technology. In this talk, I will introduce two different types of living composite materials of cells, polymeric scaffold, and engineered proteins. I have developed (1) film-type LCMs wherein the artificial protein networks are synthesized by constituent living cells in situ and mechanically reinforce the entire material, and (2) 3D-printable LCMs that can produce and elute proteins of interest even after dehydration. I will also briefly discuss how these results will accelerate the development of the functional biomaterials.