Article | Published:

Programmable assembly of pressure sensors using pattern-forming bacteria

Nature Biotechnology volume 35, pages 10871093 (2017) | Download Citation

Abstract

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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Acknowledgements

We thank R. Tsoi, C. Zhang, Z. Dai for discussions and comments; Y. Gao for assistance with confocal microscopy; Duke Light Microscopy Core Facility (LMCF) for access to confocal microscopes and imaging software; M. Plue for assistance with the TEM and SEM; Duke Shared Materials Instrumentation Facility (SMIF) for access to TEM and SEM. This study was partially supported by the Office of Naval Research (N00014-12-1-0631), National Science Foundation (L.Y.: MCB-1412459; M.D.R.: DMS-1614838), Army Research Office (L.Y., #W911NF-14-1-0490), National Institutes of Health (L.Y.: 1R01-GM098642; K99CA207872-01), Swiss National Science Foundation (M.D.R.: P300P2_154583), a David and Lucile Packard Fellowship (L.Y.).

Author information

Author notes

    • Yaying Feng
    •  & Marc D Ryser

    These authors contributed equally to this work.

Affiliations

  1. Department of Biomedical Engineering, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, USA.

    • Yangxiaolu Cao
    • , Kui Zhu
    • , Gregory Herschlag
    • , Stefan Zauscher
    •  & Lingchong You
  2. Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, USA.

    • Yaying Feng
    • , Changyong Cao
    • , Katherine Marusak
    •  & Stefan Zauscher
  3. Department of Mathematics, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, USA.

    • Marc D Ryser
    •  & Gregory Herschlag
  4. Department of Surgery, Division of Advanced Oncologic and GI Surgery, Duke University School of Medicine, Durham, North Carolina, USA.

    • Marc D Ryser
  5. School of Packaging, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan, USA.

    • Changyong Cao
  6. Department of Chemistry, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, USA.

    • Stefan Zauscher
  7. Center for Genomic and Computational Biology, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, USA.

    • Lingchong You
  8. Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, Duke University School of Medicine, Durham, North Carolina, USA.

    • Lingchong You

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Contributions

L.Y. and Y.C. conceived the project. Y.C. generated and analyzed all the experimental data. Y.C. developed MATLAB codes for image analysis. Y.C. and Y.F. designed and carried out the electrochemical pressure-sensing experiments. M.D.R. and G.H. developed the numerical simulator for 3D pattern formation. Y.C. conducted parameter fittings in all simulations and generated the final simulation results. C.C. developed the finite element simulations for strain analysis. K.Z. assisted with immunolabeling and TEM imaging. K.M. assisted with TEM imaging. Y.C., S.Z., and L.Y. wrote the manuscript, with input from Y.F., M.D.R., K.Z., G.H., and K.M.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Lingchong You.

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https://doi.org/10.1038/nbt.3978

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