Advanced Construction Materials to Develop as Researchers Create a Modified Silica that is Resilient and can Self-Assemble

Posted On April 16, 2022     

Engineered living materials can amalgamate the strength of standard construction materials with the reactivity of living systems. Consider self-healing concrete, paint that changes color when a specific chemical is detected, or a substance that can replicate and fill up cracks. Construction and maintenance would be revolutionized, with far-reaching economic and environmental repercussions.
 
The idea may come true as a research team has recently made Silica with similar characteristics. Silica refers to a common ingredient used in plaster and other construction materials. The team successfully transformed it into a self-assembling, dynamic, and resilient material. The innovation is a considerable contribution to Advanced Construction Materials. Soon, an entirely new form of materials with unique characteristics would be available for use, which can self-heal cracks or change colors.

Although it may take some time for the new category of adaptive materials to appear on store shelves, the study shows that it is achievable soon.
 
The new research throws new light on this intriguing theory of advanced construction material. It is incredibly relevant for the world, in general, as the material has uses beyond construction materials, including medicine.
 
Today, most engineered living materials rely on incorporating a live component into the material. While this additive technique has advantages, it falls short of the ideal product — one that develops, self-organizes, and heals. Research teams in the past were able to create a microbe that could manufacture the desired substance. However, it could only survive in optimal laboratory circumstances. In real-world applications, that wouldn't suffice.
 
Thus, for the present study researcher chose Bacillus subtilis. It is a well-studied and benign microbe that goes dormant under unfavorable environments and comes to life when conditions are ideal for growth. This property made it a good choice for future goods, which need to be shelf-stable and simple to activate. The researchers then genetically modified the bacteria and investigated integrating them into the silica framework.
 
The team revealed that they noticed the bacteria and Silica were cross-linking and forming intricate structures. They knew their theory was practically working through this change.
 
The research discoveries lay the groundwork for developing new engineered living materials for coatings and plasters, essential building materials. At last, the team added, they will now set out to investigate materials beyond Silica to develop unique engineered living materials for various purposes by combining different cells — possibly even numerous cell kinds.

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