Shape-morphing living composites. Academic Article uri icon


  • This work establishes a means to exploit genetic networks to create living synthetic composites that change shape in response to specific biochemical or physical stimuli. Baker's yeast embedded in a hydrogel forms a responsive material where cellular proliferation leads to a controllable increase in the composite volume of up to 400%. Genetic manipulation of the yeast enables composites where volume change on exposure to l-histidine is 14 higher than volume change when exposed to d-histidine or other amino acids. By encoding an optogenetic switch into the yeast, spatiotemporally controlled shape change is induced with pulses of dim blue light (2.7 mW/cm2). These living, shape-changing materials may enable sensors or medical devices that respond to highly specific cues found within a biological milieu.

published proceedings

  • Sci Adv

altmetric score

  • 12.5

author list (cited authors)

  • Rivera-Tarazona, L. K., Bhat, V. D., Kim, H., Campbell, Z. T., & Ware, T. H.

citation count

  • 30

complete list of authors

  • Rivera-Tarazona, LK||Bhat, VD||Kim, H||Campbell, ZT||Ware, TH

publication date

  • January 2020