Photo credit: Tom Ellis/Imperial College London
Scientists from the Imperial College London have developed self-healing “living materials” that act as 3D building blocks when damaged. In the future, this material can be used by windshields to fix their own cracks, or an aircraft fuselage tear, and most useful of all, self-repairing potholes in the road. Researchers could also integrate the building blocks into self-healing building materials, thus reducing the amount of maintenance needed while extending a material’s life and usefulness.
To create this material, researchers genetically engineered bacteria called “Komagataeibacter rhaeticus” to have them make fluorescent 3D sphere-shaped cell cultures, known as spheroids. These cultures were then equipped with sensors to detect damage before being arranged into different shapes and patterns, demonstrating their potential as modular building blocks.
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In the past we’ve created living materials with inbuilt sensors that can detect environmental cues and changes. Now we’ve created living materials that can detect damage and respond to it by healing themselves,” said Professor Tom Ellis, lead author of the Department of Bioengineering at Imperial.