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Langmuir. 2017 May 30;33(21):5304-5313. doi: 10.1021/acs.langmuir.7b00335. Epub 2017 May 18.

Fabrication of Photoreactive Biocomposite Coatings via Electric Field-Assisted Assembly of Cyanobacteria.

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Cain Department of Chemical Engineering, Louisiana State University , Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70803, United States.


We report how dielectrophoresis (DEP) can be used as a tool for the fabrication of biocomposite coatings of photoreactive cyanobacteria (Synechococcus PCC7002) on flexible polyester sheets (PEs). The PE substrates were precoated by a layer-by-layer assembled film of charged polyelectrolytes. In excellent agreement between experimental data and numerical simulations, the directed assembly process driven by external electric field results in the formation of 1D chains and 2D sheets by the cells. The preassembled cyanobacteria chains and arrays became deposited on the substrate and remained in place after the electric field was turned off due to the electrostatic attraction between the negatively charged cell surfaces and the positively charged polyelectrolyte-coated PE. The DEP-assisted packing of cyanobacteria is close to the maximal surface coverage of ∼70% estimated from convectively assembled monolayers. Confocal laser scanning microscopy and spectrophotometry confirm that the photosynthetic pigment integrity of the Synechococcus cells is preserved after DEP immobilization. The significant decrease of the light scattering and the enhanced transmittance of these field-assembled cyanobacteria coatings demonstrate reduced self-shading compared to suspension cultures. Thus, we achieved the assembly of structured cyanobacteria coatings that optimize cell surface coverage and preserve cell viability after immobilization. This is a step toward the development of flexible multilayered cell-based photoabsorbing biomaterials that can serve as components of "biomimetic leaves" for utilizing solar energy to recycle CO2 into fuels or chemicals.

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