The University of California at San Diego last month detailed the latest advances toward making a lighting system powered by genetically engineered e. coli bacteria.
Bioengineers insert a protein that causes the bacteria to fluoresce. Assembled in colonies, these bacteria act as a light source, like the pixel on a screen. About 500 individual bacteria are assembled into colonies, or "biopixels."
Those biopixels were engineered as components in larger circuits to make a display with as many as 13,000 biopixels.
The hope is that these biological circuits can be used as sensors for pollutants or other hazardous materials. In its tests, biopixels were able to detect arsenic by blinking on and off in unison.
One of the biggest technical challenges is to coordinate blinking across so many individual bacteria. Researchers designed their microfluidic chi