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Title: Photosynthesis-assisted remodeling of three-dimensional printed structures

The mechanical properties of engineering structures continuously weaken during service life because of material fatigue or degradation. By contrast, living organisms are able to strengthen their mechanical properties by regenerating parts of their structures. For example, plants strengthen their cell structures by transforming photosynthesis-produced glucose into stiff polysaccharides. In this work, we realize hybrid materials that use photosynthesis of embedded chloroplasts to remodel their microstructures. These materials can be used to three-dimensionally (3D)-print functional structures, which are endowed with matrix-strengthening and crack healing when exposed to white light. The mechanism relies on a 3D-printable polymer that allows for an additional cross-linking reaction with photosynthesis-produced glucose in the material bulk or on the interface. The remodeling behavior can be suspended by freezing chloroplasts, regulated by mechanical preloads, and reversed by environmental cues. This work opens the door for the design of hybrid synthetic-living materials, for applications such as smart composites, lightweight structures, and soft robotics.

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Award ID(s):
1943598 1762567
Publication Date:
Journal Name:
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
Article No. e2016524118
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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