Project

Hybrid Living Materials

Copyright

The Mediated Matter group

 The Mediated Matter group

Hybrid Living Materials (HLMs) are formed by combining living and non-living materials such that the resulting composites take on the functional properties of both. 

In the 2019 paper published to Advanced Functional Materials, we detailed the HLM Platform: a method of interfacing a 3D digital design and printing platform with engineered bacteria, in such a way that we achieve programmable, replicable control of gene expression across the surface of 3D printed objects. 

Hybrid Living Materials (HLMs) are formed by combining living and non-living materials such that the resulting composites take on the functional properties of both. 

In the 2019 paper published to Advanced Functional Materials, we detailed the HLM Platform: a method of interfacing a 3D digital design and printing platform with engineered bacteria, in such a way that we achieve programmable, replicable control of gene expression across the surface of 3D printed objects. 

Copyright

The Mediated Matter group

We demonstrate this technology to create brilliant color patterns on 3D objects of wearable scale (expression of color-producing enzymes, and fluorescent proteins). 

With the ability to plan localized gene expression along with 3D-geometry in a CAD-like environment, researchers and designers alike may control and pattern the production of vitamins, antibodies or antimicrobial drugs across objects, through computational algorithms and digital fabrication. 

Copyright

The Mediated Matter group

Such techniques may someday be extended to the patterned production of bioactive compounds in personalized drug delivery devices, or the design of biochemical production on material surfaces (etching, dying, etc.) or consumer goods.

Further, the HLM platform approach points towards an exciting future of incorporating engineerable, living cells into traditional, static materials to allow us to bequeath them with unique biological and responsive properties. 

Copyright

The Mediated Matter Group

Copyright

The Mediated Matter Group

HLMs are among an emergent class of materials aimed at expanding the ways in which living cells can be functionalized to generate new material properties. 

This research contributes to the growing field of Biohybrid Materials and  Engineered Living Materials (ELMs) at the intersection of computational design, materials science, and synthetic biology. 

Copyright

The Mediated Matter Group

Research on HLMs was conducted in parallel to Vespers: a collection of masks exploring what it means to design (with) life. From the relic of the death mask to a contemporary living device, we embarked on a journey that began with a conceptual piece and ended with a tangible set of tools, techniques and technologies combining programmable matter and programmable life.

Copyright

The Mediated Matter Group

The paper “Hybrid Living Materials: Digital Design and Fabrication of 3D Multi-material Structures with Programmable Biohybrid Surfaces” is available on Wiley (doi: 10.1002/adfm.201907401) or from the Media Lab website

See further coverage of this work in the MIT News article, “Printing objects that can incorporate living organisms” by David L. Chandler.