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Volume 6 Issue 4, April 2021

Materials synthetic biology integrates synthetic biology and materials science for the development of self-organizing functional materials and hybrid living materials. These dynamic and responsive materials can be applied for the design of living sensors, therapeutics, electronics, energy-conversion materials and living building materials. See Tang et al.

Image: Chenfu Hsing. Cover design: Charlotte Gurr.


  • The virtual world offers countless opportunities to interact with each other, yet, it remains difficult to replace valuable in-person scientific discussions that often happen spontaneously at a conference.



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  • Near-field communication (NFC) emerged as a high-security, wireless, short-range, data exchange technology nearly two decades ago; its ability to simultaneously transfer power and data between devices offers exciting opportunities for the design of miniature, battery-less and disposable sensing systems in healthcare and food quality monitoring.

    • Selin Olenik
    • Hong Seok Lee
    • Firat Güder
  • Understanding electrified interfaces is crucial to enabling a multitude of applications, including photo(electrocatalysis), supercapacitors, pseudocapacitors and batteries. However, reaching an atomistic understanding of electrified interfaces remains challenging and will require the combination and development of refined computations and experiments.

    • Stephan N. Steinmann
    • Zhi Wei Seh
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Research Highlights

  • An article in Nature Biomedical Engineering reports a wearable sensor for the simultaneous non-invasive monitoring of heart rate, blood pressure and multiple biochemical markers.

    • Christine Horejs
    Research Highlight
  • An article in Science Advances reports a new approach to stabilizing perovskite precursor solutions for the reproducible fabrication of high-performance solar cells

    • Claire Ashworth
    Research Highlight
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  • Artificial channels that selectively transport small molecules at the sub-nanometre scale are used in many applications, but, in particular, in molecular separation. This Review discusses the design of channels, nanostructure, fabrication and mass-transport mechanisms, as well as outlining promising applications and the challenges ahead.

    • Jie Shen
    • Gongping Liu
    • Wanqin Jin
    Review Article
  • Materials synthetic biology merges synthetic biology with materials science for the redesign of living systems into smart materials. This Review discusses how synthetic-biology tools can be applied for the engineering of self-organizing functional materials and programmable hybrid living materials.

    • Tzu-Chieh Tang
    • Bolin An
    • Chao Zhong
    Review Article
  • Precision medicine identifies the optimal treatment strategy for an individual patient. Such personalized therapies can be greatly improved by targeted drug delivery approaches. This Review investigates the integration of targeted drugs, in particular, kinase inhibitors, with targeted drug delivery systems.

    • Mandana T. Manzari
    • Yosi Shamay
    • Daniel A. Heller
    Review Article
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