Lukmaan A. Bawazer et al./PNAS
( C ) Polystyrene microbeads coated with silicatein are reacted with small metal-containing precursors in water-in-oil emulsions, yielding mineral composites, which are then isolated from nomineralized polymer beads by flow sorting, with light scattering used to identify large beads for sorting. (D) Schematic summary of the gene library used for evolutionary selection experiments. Recombinant genes for two natural isoforms of silicatein were digested and reassembled by DNA shuffling to produce a chimeric library of variant silicateins, which were then screened to identify previously undescribed mineralizing variants via the process summarized in C.
UCSB scientists synthesize first genetically evolved semiconductor material
UC Santa Barbara (UCSB)
scientists have, for the first time, used genetic engineering and molecular evolution to direct the enzymatic synthesis of a semiconductor.
By controlling this directed evolution, it will be possible to evolve materials with specific capacities, like high performance in an evolved solar cell, for example, the researchers say.
“In the realm of human technologies it would be a new method, but it’s an ancient approach in nature,” said UCSB scientist Lukmaan Bawazer.
Using silicateins — proteins responsible for the formation of silica skeletons in marine sponges — the researchers were able to generate new mineral architectures by directing the evolution of these enzymes.
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