Encapsulation of cells within silica matrixes: Towards a new advance in the conception of living hybrid materials

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    Living cells can be considered as a highly efficient molecular engines spatially enclosed, remaining however fragile. By combining cells with silica materials in an appropriate way, novel living hybrid material technologies can be designed. After showing the real interplay between silica species and living organisms in nature, this featuring article summarizes the considerable progress in cell encapsulation into silica matrixes. Generally speaking, bioencapsulation allows protecting cells from harsh environment and controlling their surrounding as well as their concentration. This combination produces ultimately a device that can be oriented to drive the desired biochemical reactions. Particularly, this article highlights that functional living matters are very promising in the development of new eco-friendly processes. Compared to conventional chemical process, these hybrid systems would be enabled to use greater and in more efficient way renewable resources (i.e. solar energy) to produce a vast array of chemicals. Additionally, encapsulated cell technology has opened the possibility to design various other kinds of bioactive materials such as cleaning systems, biosensors and artificial organs. Through different examples, including the immobilization of microorganisms, photosynthetic organelles, plant cells and animal cells, the interests and the preparation methods of these living hybrid materials are discussed.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)211-224
    Number of pages14
    JournalJournal of Colloid and Interface Science
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 15 Feb 2010


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