Direct Writing of Tunable Living Inks for Bioprocess Intensification

Calvin Henard, Michael Guarnieri, Fang Qian, Cheng Zhu, Jennifer Knipe, Samantha Ruelas, Joshuah Stolaroff, Joshua DeOtte, Eric Duoss, Christopher Spadaccini, Sarah Baker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

72 Scopus Citations


Critical to the success of three-dimensional (3D) printing of living materials with high performance is the development of new ink materials and 3D geometries that favor long-term cell functionality. Here we report the use of freeze-dried live cells as the solid filler to enable a new living material system for direct ink writing of catalytically active microorganisms with tunable densities and various self-supporting porous 3D geometries. Baker's yeast was used as an exemplary live whole-cell biocatalyst, and the printed structures displayed high resolution, large scale, high catalytic activity and long-term viability. An unprecedented high cell loading was achieved, and cell inks showed unique thixotropic behavior. In the presence of glucose, printed bioscaffolds exhibited increased ethanol production compared to bulk counterparts due largely to improved mass transfer through engineered porous structures. The new living materials developed in this work could serve as a versatile platform for process intensification of an array of bioconversion processes utilizing diverse microbial biocatalysts for production of high-value products or bioremediation applications.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)5829-5835
Number of pages7
JournalNano Letters
Issue number9
StatePublished - 11 Sep 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 American Chemical Society.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5100-73418


  • additive manufacturing
  • biocatalysts
  • bioinks
  • Bioprinting
  • living materials


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