Growing a Second Skin: Towards Synthetic Biology in Product Design
2015 Patrick, W., MS thesis, MIT,
Synthetic biology is a rapidly growing engineering discipline widely used in biotechnological applications. However, there are few examples of using synthetic biology in product design and there are even fewer — perhaps no — examples of incorporating fluids containing synthetic organisms and biomolecules into a product. The goals of this thesis are two-fold. First, the author investigates how to contain and control fluids in 3D printed fluid channels. 3D printing methods are characterized by their ability to create fluidic channels that are compatible with biochemistry and culturing mi- croorganisms. Second, the author explores how to design the materiality and geometry of the fluid channels to affect biological function. These goals are pursued in two distinct projects: DNA assembly in 3D printed fluidics and Mushtari, a fluidic wearable designed to contain cyanobacteria and E. coli cultures. Contributions include (1) characterizing the resolution of three 3D printing methods for creating fluidic channels, (2) demonstrating compatibility of 3D printing methods with cell culture and DNA assembly biochemistry, (3) demonstrating the capability to print wearable-scale mil- lifluidic networks up to 58 meters in length, and (4) developing approaches for fabricating geometrically complex fluidic systems.