May 13, 2017 06:17 AM EDT
Scientists discover that bacteria and liquid crystals are able to form a combined living materials in the recent research. This helps the scientists to further understand the interaction between bacteria and the liquid crystal.
Liquid crystals are known as the materials for building smart glass, displays, transitional lenses and mood rings. However, some microorganism also contains liquid crystals in them, such as mucus, slug slime and cell membranes of the bacteria. Scientists are intrigued to find how can liquid crystals accommodate the living environment for bacteria to create living materials.
A Professor of Biomedical Engineering, Chemistry, and Mathematics at the Penn State University, Igor Aronson was interested to find the living materials. He explored the relationship between the bacteria and the nematic liquid crystal, called disodium cromoglycate.
"One of the ideas we came up with was materials that live," Professor Aronson explained the living materials. "Living matter, active matter may be self-healing and shape-changing and will convert energy to mechanical motion."
In his experiment, Professor Aronson found that the bacteria can move toward the liquid crystal to form the living materials. The type of living materials he found is more than just the combination of the bacteria and the liquid crystals, but it is a new material with the unusual property of optical, physical and electrical.
Professor Aronson has published his research in the journal Physical Review X. He co-authored the research with three of his colleagues Mikhail Genkin, Andrey Sokolov and Oleg D. Lavrentovich. The research on the living materials that was formed as a combination of bacteria and liquid crystals also receives support from the U.S. Department of Energy.
Living materials is an interesting topic in the biochemistry research. Many researchers have tried to find the way to develop a hybrid material made from the living bacterial cells and non-living components in form of nanoparticles, such as the combination of bacteria and liquid crystals in Professor Aronson research. Watch his research as the bacteria in the left moves through a channel toward the particle below:
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