Scalable bacterial production of moldable and recyclable biomineralized cellulose with tunable mechanical properties

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Yu, K 
Spiesz, EM 
Balasubramanian, S 

Sustainable structural materials with excellent impact-resistance properties are urgently needed but challenging to produce, especially in a scalable fashion and with control over 3D shape. Here, we show that bacterial cellulose (BC) and bacterially precipitated calcium carbonate self-assemble into a layered structure reminiscent of tough biomineralized materials in nature (nacre, bone, dentin). The fabrication method consists of biomineralizing BC to form an organic/inorganic mixed slurry, in which calcium carbonate crystal size is controlled with bacterial poly(γ-glutamic acid) and magnesium ions. This slurry self-assembles into a layered material that combines high toughness and high impact and fire resistance. The rapid fabrication is readily scalable, without involving toxic chemicals. Notably, the biomineralized BC can be repeatedly recycled and molded into any desired 3D shape and size using a simple kitchen blender and sieve. This fully biodegradable composite is well suited for use as a component in daily life, including furniture, helmets, and protective garments.

40 Engineering, 3403 Macromolecular and Materials Chemistry, 4016 Materials Engineering, 34 Chemical Sciences
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Cell Reports Physical Science
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Elsevier BV
The authors thank Ward Groutars and Elvin Karana for useful discussions. K.Y. is supported financially by the China Scholarship Council (CSC no.201706630001). S.B. is funded by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, Asian Office of Aerospace Research and Development (grant no. FA2386-18-1-4059).