Coronavirus Information for the UC San Diego Community

Our leaders are working closely with federal and state officials to ensure your ongoing safety at the university. Stay up to date with the latest developments. Learn more.

Bionic 3D printed corals

TitleBionic 3D printed corals
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2020
AuthorsWangpraseurt D, You S, Azam F, Jacucci G, Gaidarenko O, Hildebrand M, Kühl M, Smith AG, Davey MP, Smith A, Deheyn DD, Chen S, Vignolini S
Date Published2020/04
ISBN Number2041-1723

Corals have evolved as optimized photon augmentation systems, leading to space-efficient microalgal growth and outstanding photosynthetic quantum efficiencies. Light attenuation due to algal self-shading is a key limiting factor for the upscaling of microalgal cultivation. Coral-inspired light management systems could overcome this limitation and facilitate scalable bioenergy and bioproduct generation. Here, we develop 3D printed bionic corals capable of growing microalgae with high spatial cell densities of up to 109 cells mL−1. The hybrid photosynthetic biomaterials are produced with a 3D bioprinting platform which mimics morphological features of living coral tissue and the underlying skeleton with micron resolution, including their optical and mechanical properties. The programmable synthetic microenvironment thus allows for replicating both structural and functional traits of the coral-algal symbiosis. Our work defines a class of bionic materials that is capable of interacting with living organisms and can be exploited for applied coral reef research and photobioreactor design.

Student Publication: