Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Synth-ethic: Art and Synthetic Biology Exhibition — Vienna, Austria

Synth-ethic: Art and Synthetic Biology Exhibition — Vienna, Austria

Bacterial Radio exhibits several bacterially-grown platinum/germanium electrical circuits (crystal radios) on glass substrates. Joe Davis, in collaboration with Ido Bachelet and Tara Gianoulis from Harvard Medical School in Boston, used bacteria altered with variants of a gene from orange marine puffball sponges (Tethya aurantia) to plate electronic circuits on Petri dishes and microscope slides. This gene codes for a protein – silicatein – that normally forms Tethya aurantia’s glass skeleton, its tiny, glass, needle-like spicules composed of silicon and oxygen. Variants of this gene have now been optimized to plate metallic conductors and semiconductors including germanium, titanium dioxide, platinum and other materials. Here, genetically-modified bacteria are embedded in non-conductive materials containing metal salts, and then optically induced to plate specific, electrically conductive circuits. These Bacterial Radios on display are connected to high impedance telephone headsets, antennae and ground, so that visitors may use them to actually listen to AM radio broadcasts.

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