Princeton University Background
Previous technologies for 3D-printing Engineered Living Materials composed of bacteria house in a polymeric matrix mixed the bacteria and pre-polymers together and 3D printed onto flat surfaces. However, the bacteria and pre-polymers are often very soft, so they will slump when printed on a surface, which hinders the ability to print complex shapes.
Researchers at Princeton University’s Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering have developed a new method to 3D-print bacterial colonies on a bed of hydrogel matrix support. The hydrogel support is used to print complex structures of bacteria embedded in pre-polymer, which is cured with UV to fix the bacteria in place.
The researchers describe a way to simultaneously define bacterial communities of controlled 3D structures and compositions, visualize their structure and development, probe biological processes through fluorescence, and recover cells for off-line assays such as whole genome analysis or RNA-sequencing. This capability will enable the study of defined bacterial communities both using engineered strains and naturally-occurring strains of bacteria.
Stage of Development
Methods have been experimentally verified. Different shapes have been printed and cell viability post UV has been confirmed.
Denser bacterial colonies
Print complex shapes
Printing stimuli-responsive materials
Printing living metamaterials
Fundamental microbiology studies
Princeton is currently seeking commercial partners for the further development and commercialization of this opportunity.