martes, 2 de abril de 2013

Luke Bawazer on Genetically Evolving Technology

ORIGINAL: 33rd Square
April 1, 2013 


Luke Bawazer's research in synthetic biology aims to utilize droplet microfluidics to advance studies of solution-based mineralization and to develop new biomimetic materials engineering strategies. Recently he spoke at TEDxWarwick about the promise and potential of this work. 
Luke Bawazer works in Fiona Meldrum's laboratory at University of Leeds, where he conducts research at the interface of chemistry, materials science, and synthetic biology.

Bawazer's research aims to utilize droplet microfluidics to advance studies of solution-based mineralization and to develop new biomimetic materials engineering strategies. A major anticipated outcome of our research is the ability probe interesting materials chemistry and biochemistry questions that are important to biomineralization, using novel low-cost and high-throughput platforms.

His work is inspired by living organisms, such as bones, teeth, and seashells. These biominerals will help us create new materials technologies using genetic engineering. With synthetic biology we can now make and evolve synthetic genes that encode new inorganic composite materials with useful electronic functions.

"There are many examples in nature of really amazing materials from the perspective of a materials scientist or a materials engineer, they are really amazing materials," Bawazer told Materials Today late last year. "Some examples are abalone shell, which is made of calcium carbonate, or it’s 95% calcium carbonate, and less than 5% organic matter, and yet that composite has a 3,000 times higher fracture toughness than calcium carbonate alone, which is of course just chalk, and it’s due to a unique micro-architecture. So if you examine and look at abalone shell in a microscope, large sections of it look like a brick-and-mortar structure, with micro-bricks in micro-mortar being biomolecules."



Bawazer has recently been highlighted for his work towards genetically evolving semiconductors. He has received his PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from Dan Morse's laboratory at the University of California focusing on the directed laboratory evolution of biomineralizing enzymes.

According to Bawazwer, "a very important part of this evolution approach is the capacity of these artificial cells, and that’s something I’m very interested in, and that I’d like to develop further. Currently, I’m working with new microfluidic-based techniques to create artificial cells that are more robust, probed in different ways. So, for example, if we’d like to look for materials that are electronically active, then we want to be able to probe these cells electronically, and that requires certain properties of the cell membrane. The main things I’m working on is developing new sets of artificial cells that are more robust and amenable to directed laboratory evolution."

SOURCE TEDx Talks

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