Self-Growing, Living Materials | AIChE

Self-Growing, Living Materials


Engineers at the Univ. of Southern California (USC) are using live bacteria to create strong, resilient materials that could be used to build sturdier cars, airplanes, and even armor.

The bacteria used in the materials is Sporosarcina pasteurii, a species known to secrete the enzyme urease. When urease is exposed to urea and calcium ions, it produces calcium carbonate, which is an essential mineral compound found in bones and teeth.

To create structures using S. pasteurii, the team 3D-printed a polymer structure interspersed with porous lattices, creating a helicoidal scaffolding. Then, they introduced the bacteria to the inner surface of the porous lattices; by nature, bacteria attach themselves to planar surfaces where they can rapidly grow. Within the scaffolding, the S. pasteurii secreted urease in the presence of urea and calcium ions applied in solution to the structure, which triggered the formation of calcium carbonate crystals.


Would you like to access the complete CEP News Update?

No problem. You just have to complete the following steps.

You have completed 0 of 2 steps.

  1. Log in

    You must be logged in to view this content. Log in now.

  2. AIChE Membership

    You must be an AIChE member to view this article. Join now.

Copyright Permissions 

Would you like to reuse content from CEP Magazine? It’s easy to request permission to reuse content. Simply click here to connect instantly to licensing services, where you can choose from a list of options regarding how you would like to reuse the desired content and complete the transaction.