REU PROJECT

Biomaterial Fabrication (2022)

Smart Material Toolkits Track


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Description

Biomaterials in fabrication and rapid prototyping processes show promise in supporting sustainable practices. One DIYBio technique uses a film byproduct of a SCOBY-kombucha tea mixture to produce a leather-like material that offers unique and desirable properties, including biodegradability, flexibility, and tuneable translucency or surface finish. However, growing biomaterials is a slow process with limited form-giving capabilities.

The project goals include:

  • Streamlining the DIY fabrication workflow for growing SCOBY leather and developing closed-feedback sensing and control of humidity, sugar levels, and temperature for the biomaterial solution;
  • Refining the SCOBY desiccation process, documenting the different behaviors of solution parameters, and characterizing the different material outputs;
  • Building a mobile application that allows users to monitor growth over time and at a distance to accompany the fabrication platform.

This work would result in an open-source hardware platform for SCOBY leather design and fabrication to be shared with the larger DIYBio and research community; such toolkits have been shown to broaden scientific participation.

Photos

Authors

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Christopher McMurrough
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Cesar Torres
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Charlotte Anne Jones