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‘Living ink’ for self-repairing buildings and removing pollution

The picture shows different gels made from mutated E. coli bacteria. Photo: NewScientist

Boston: Living ink containing a variety of bacteria can be used to make buildings that can not only reduce harmful germs and gases but also reduce building damage.

Avinash Baswana of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) says that conscious ink of its kind reacts to the environment. The bacterial web on them absorbs toxic compounds. However, the combination of genetically modified E. coli bacteria can create a living structure that can eliminate toxic compounds or release the cancer drug Izurin. If left untreated, they cut down on toxins bisphenol A, a common toxin found in plastics that can cause cancer and infertility.

But large-scale production of this ink still seems impossible. But it can also keep buildings clean and free of harmful gases. In the future, self-correcting paint could make the building new for decades.

Experts have made this ink from a special protein polymer called curly nanofiber in which nanofibers are made from modified E. coli bacteria. Due to their opposite charge, they can join together and form a long sheet. Spacecraft made of such materials can automatically repair their debris over long distances.

Interestingly, the modified E. coli made a liquid-filled gel that absorbed 30% of the contaminated and toxic compounds from one gel in 24 hours. Another important point is that after being applied to a building, the usefulness of the bacteria can be maintained for many years.

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