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Some people might feel sorrow for the enslaved organism, while others think it only logical that we use nature's adaptability and resilience to fuel our technological progress.
If humanity is to have a debate on whether it's conscionable to employ living organisms in our electronics, it begins now. MIT researchers, led by doctoral candidate Allen Chen, have fused the living and non-living worlds by creating E. coli strands capable of incorporating gold nanoparticles and quantum dots into their colonies. These "living materials" will benefit from both the conductivity and light-emitting properties of their non-living parts and the responsiveness of their bacterial hearts.
The concept is based on naturally-occurring living materials like bone, which incorporates both minerals and living cells. While glowing, conductive bacteria is pretty interesting on its own, the research team believes that its new living circuitry could someday be used in everything from solar cells and diagnostic sensors to self-healing electronics.
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