American Chemical Society
mz2c00282_si_001.pdf (350.37 kB)

Toward Plant Cyborgs: Hydrogels Incorporated onto Plant Tissues Enable Programmable Shape Control

Download (350.37 kB)
journal contribution
posted on 2022-08-16, 07:40 authored by Jiayu Zhao, Yifeng Ma, Nicole F. Steinmetz, Jinhye Bae
Engineered living materials (ELMs) that incorporate living organisms and synthetic materials enable advanced functional properties. Here, we seek to create plant cyborgs by combining plants or plant tissues with stimuli-responsive polymeric materials. Plant tissues with integrated shape control may find applications in regenerative medicine, and the shape control of living plants enables another dimension of adaptability and response to environmental threats, which can be applied to next-generation precision farming. In this work, we develop chemistry to integrate stimuli-responsive poly­(N-isopropylacrylamide) (PNIPAM) hydrogels with decellularized plant tissues assisted by 3D printing. We demonstrate programmable shape morphing in response to thermal cues and ultraviolet (UV) light. Specifically, by taking advantage of the extrusion-based 3D printing method, we deposit nanocomposite PNIPAM precursors onto silane-treated decellularized leaf surface with prescribed shapes and spatial control. When subjected to external stimuli, the strain mismatch generated between the swellable nanocomposite PNIPAM and nonswellable decellularized leaf enables folding and bending to occur. This strategy to integrate the plant tissues with stimuli-responsive hydrogels allows the control of leaf morphology, opening avenues for plant-based biosensors and soft actuators to enhance food security; such materials also may find applications in biomedicine as tissue-engineering scaffolds.