Materials manufacturing strategies that use little energy, valorize waste, and result in degradable products are urgently needed. Strategies that transform abundant biomass into functional materials form one approach to these emerging manufacturing techniques. From a biological standpoint, morphogenesis of biological tissues is a “manufacturing” mode without energy-intensive processes, large carbon footprints, and toxic wastes. Inspired by biological morphogenesis, we propose a manufacturing strategy by embedding living Saccharomyces cerevisiae (Baker’s yeast) within a synthetic acrylic hydrogel matrix. By culturing the living materials in media derived from bread waste, encapsulated yeast cells can proliferate resulting in a dramatic dry mass and volume increase of the whole living material. After growth, the final material is up to 96 wt% biomass and 590% larger in volume than the initial object. By digitally programming the cell viability through UV irradiation or photodynamic inactivation, the living materials can form complex user-defined relief surfaces or 3D objects during growth. Ultimately, the grown structures can also be designed to be degradable. The proposed living materials manufacturing strategy cultured from biowaste may pave the way for future ecologically friendly manufacturing of materials.
What excites you about NSF BioPACIFIC MIP?
The BioPACIFIC MIP program is an excellent platform to further expand my knowledge in biopolymers from different aspects and advanced techniques for developing next-generation biomaterials. I am enthusiastic about joining the BioPACIFIC MIP program to learn cutting-edge skills about the Materials Genome Initiative approach and receive training in automated synthetic biology, chemical synthesis, and advanced biomaterials characterization. Networking and collaborating with other exceptional researchers from different fields also drive me to apply for the BioPACIFIC MIP Associate program.