The smarty pants at MIT have been busy, and this time they've created sheets of living E.Coli cells combined with gold nanoparticles and quantum dots. What will it be used for? Self-aware surface of course.

Grown using E.Coli bacteria as a substrate, it naturally forms in thin sheets, known as biofilm, which contain curli fibers. These are proteins that help it attach to surfaces. They can also capture non-living materials. Researchers decided to get creative by adding gold nanoparticles and quantum dots to see what would happen.

It turns out, it's possible to control how the film takes up gold nanoparticles introduced to the surface. Researcher Timothy Lu explains:
"It shows that indeed you can make cells that talk to each other and they can change the composition of the material over time. says. "Ultimately, we hope to emulate how natural systems, like bone, form. No one tells bone what to do, but it generates a material in response to environmental signals."
Could there one day be materials that could build themselves for the environment they're in?
[MIT via Natural World News via Engadget]