Programmable assembly of pressure sensors using pattern-forming bacteria

nbt-3978-f1

Biological systems can generate microstructured materials that combine organic and inorganic components and possess diverse physical and chemical properties. However, these natural processes in materials fabrication are not readily programmable. Here, we use a synthetic-biology approach to assemble patterned materials. We demonstrate programmable fabrication of three-dimensional (3D) materials by printing engineered self-patterning bacteria on permeable membranes that serve as a structural scaffold. Application of gold nanoparticles to the colonies creates hybrid organic-inorganic dome structures. The dynamics of the dome structures’ response to pressure is determined by their geometry (colony size, dome height, and pattern), which is easily modified by varying the properties of the membrane (e.g., pore size and hydrophobicity). We generate resettable pressure sensors that process signals in response to varying pressure intensity and duration.

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