UC Berkeley scientists have taken proteins from nerve cells and used them to create a „smart“ material that is extremely sensitive to its environment. This marriage of materials science and biology could give birth to a flexible, sensitive coating that is easy and cheap to manufacture in large quantities.
The work, published today (Tuesday, Oct. 14) in the journal Nature Communications, could lead to new types of biological sensors, flow valves and controlled drug release systems, the researchers said. Biomedical applications include microfluidic devices that can handle and process very small volumes of liquid, such as samples of saliva or blood, for diagnostics.
„This work represents a unique convergence of the fields of biomimetic materials, biomolecular engineering and synthetic biology,“ said principal investigator Dr. Sanjay Kumar, UC Berkeley associate professor of bioengineering. „We created a new class of smart, protein-based materials whose structural principles are inspired by networks found in living cells.“