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Biotech Technology

MIT Researcher Enlists Bacteria To Assemble Nanotech Materials 36

The Register reports on an approach to nanotech that combines biological computing with micro-mechanics, embodied in the work of MIT associate professor Timothy Lu. Lu's research has resulted in the creation of tiny structures assembled using modified E. coli. "Specifically," says the article, "the MIT researchers were able to put bacteria to work producing conducting biofilms, some of which were studded with quantum dots, and arranging gold nanowires. This paves the way for the development of mass manufactured cell-based material factories, and even 'living materials' that have some of the desirable properties of bones or trees, Lu confirmed." His most radical idea, says Lu, is furniture that shapes itself to cushion the user's most-stressed areas.
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MIT Researcher Enlists Bacteria To Assemble Nanotech Materials

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  • "furniture that shapes itself to cushion the user's most-stressed areas"... the Bene Gesserit have had those for years.
  • by Tablizer ( 95088 ) on Monday March 24, 2014 @02:59AM (#46561817) Journal


  • by Anna Merikin ( 529843 ) on Monday March 24, 2014 @03:05AM (#46561839) Journal

    I am thunderstruck by the irony of the mind-blowing promise of this technique and the "most radical" use that the lead author can dream up (according to the Register, anyway, which has a reputation to me of overhyping a story and burying leads): A comfy chair made of high-tech volatile-memory foam which needs to eat.

    Another irony: the original TFA appears to be paywalled so we mortals get to read the Register's digest of it. Maybe some advanced-degree reader of Nature can come up with some more original (and profitable, to boot) use for this technique. I mean, quantum dots, gold nanowires and such can conceivably lead to computational devices, can't they? Can this be used to extend Moore's Law further into the future?

    • Snails teeth made of dislocation free incredibly high strength iron is a pretty amazing existing use of metal assembly by an organism without even getting into possibilities. Scaling up something like that (or scaling it up with other materials) has a lot of potential even before getting into possibilities of design right down to the microscopic level - not just composite materials but incorporating electronics and tiny mechanisms.
      Drexler wrote a lot about those sort of possibilities in a few very easy to
    • Can You be more discriptive to this as i m not able to conclude anything Anjimile Mtila Oponyo
    • Nature Materials hasn't actually put the paper in an issue yet. When they do, there should be some decent editorial in Nature Mat itself and probably Nature's public news site. Meanwhile these articles are riffing on this press release and (apparently) some other press comments the author has made.

      http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/... [mit.edu]

      These hybrid materials could be worth exploring for use in energy applications such as batteries and solar cells, Lu says. The researchers are also interested in coating the biofi

  • I for one welcome our bacteria assembled overlords!
  • And this, ladies and gentlemen, is how Michael Crichton's novel "Prey" is set into motion...

    • What, the researchers called their agent and said "I'm doing The Andromeda Strain again, but with nanomachines"?

    • Let's hope someone in DARPA has read the book past the first couple of chapters and will alert the management to not cancel their funding for the camera that they got the idea for after reading the first couple of chapters. :-)

  • "the MIT researchers were able to put bacteria to work

    Hasn't slavery been illegal in the US for many years? Did anyone ask the bacteria if they wanted to work, and has the AFL-CIO been able to lobby them for unionization?

    I'm not sure having e.coli as slaves is a good thing, especially in chairs. The first naked guy who sits on one will introduce the slaves in the chair to the free bacteria, and there may be a mass exodus of slaves from the chair up into the land of freedom and free food.

"If it's not loud, it doesn't work!" -- Blank Reg, from "Max Headroom"