February 27, 2024

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How can living materials from algae absorb carbon better?

How can living materials from algae absorb carbon better?

Scientists from TU Delft have discovered how microalgae cells can grow optimally in living matter manipulated by photosynthesis. These algae-based living materials have various applications, from functional objects to carbon dioxide2– Storing oxygen sources for biological tissues.

The image shows a cross-section of living matter that has been manipulated by the process of photosynthesis. On the right side of the image you can see clusters of algae cells that convert sunlight, carbon dioxide and water into glucose.

The team, led by Marie-Eve Upen Tam and Kunal Masania, present their new insights into… Advanced materials.

“Engineered living materials (ELMs) are an interesting new group of materials that could revolutionize society,” says biophysicist Aubhin Tam. “An example of this is photosynthetic living matter, where photosynthetic organisms actively grow. We have studied ash trees using photosynthetic algae, which could eventually be used to deliver oxygen to biological tissues. Artificial evolution Histology is of particular importance given the increasing shortage of organ transplants.

Growth control

“One of the major limitations preventing these materials from being used more widely is that we currently do not know how to control cell growth in these materials. This is what we investigated. We investigated how cell growth is affected by the shape of the material, exposure to light, and access to nutrients.” And carbon dioxide2“Ubin Tam says.

“We were able to show that the cells grew mainly along the edges of the material, where they have greater access to air and light,” adds first author Jeong-Ju Oh. The researchers found that the thin structure increases the efficiency of ELMs. In this way, a relatively large proportion of cells are located along the edges and thus have access to the air.

Nature has the answer

Nature has come to the same conclusion, that cell growth in an elm corresponds exactly to how a plant leaf is structured. Thin leaves with a large number of cells along the surface expose a large portion of the cells to air and sunlight.

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“Our results show that access to light and carbon dioxide2 It is the key. Introducing a small gas exchange opening into the structures clearly improved cell growth in the inner layers. However, this speeds up the drying process, which is ultimately not good for the cells, says materials scientist Masanya. This aspect can also be found in nature. Leaves have very small holes called stomata. “Plants open their stomata as gateways to improve gas exchange while not allowing a large amount of water to escape. Mechanisms that respond to carbon dioxide deficiency2“Like the stomata of a leaf, they will be very useful for photosynthetic ash organisms and increase their lifespan and efficiency in the future,” says Masagna.

3D printable ink

In this research, the team studied different forms of materials and their effect on cell growth. “To make this possible, we designed a new type of ink. This is the material that comes out of the printer. “We were looking for an ink that would allow us to print larger, more complex shapes,” says Aubin Tam. While her group at the College of Applied Sciences was studying cell growth, Kunal Masania from the School of Aeronautical Engineering has begun developing a new 3D-printable ink. Together with Elvin Karana from the School of Industrial Design, they are studying the possibilities of producing 3D structures from living photosynthetic materials for future applications.