Living Devices explores the interaction between organic and artificial systems where a hybrid unity may be possible, where the function of the device relies on both the electronic and the biological components of the system. More precisely, my interest lies in creating a series of living devices that combine electronic control system with live bacterial systems. The main research aims to investigate possible variations of negotiation at the different bacterial organisms will aid in identifying suitable electric ranges that may create interesting growth results and patterns. For the purpose of this piece, I developed a series of electrode configurations that can moderate and control the voltage level of each single electrode in generating non-unified, diverse and possibly dynamic electrical field environments for experimentation. Ideally, the target bacterial organism would be a strain sensitive to electrical environments and utilize electrical bursts to communicate between colonies. Due to limits in accessibility at the time, the existing case study utilizes the JM109 strain of E. coli to develop methodology and obtain basic knowledge of bacterial response.
Images of some experimental results where voltage and stimulation zones were stable,
but bacterial seeding schemes changed between the plates. As can be seen both by dots marked on the plates and the bacterial growth around these marked areas.
The coloration of the agar is due to the oxidization of the copper electrodes. To avoid metal
poisoning from effecting the experiment results, I used gold plated electrodes in these tests,
but the gold plate eroded, exposing the copper.
However, it is still visible that bacteria colonies are able to survive in part of the environment.
The coloration in these tests also help visualize the electric fields surrounding the voltage
points. It would be interesting to test the current flowing through different parts of the agar
and observe how that may effect bacterial growth as well.
Gold Plated Electrodes
Bottom of Petri Plate
Lid of Petri Plate
Holes for Embedding
Anticipated Voltage Field for
Complex Stimulation Circuit Design
Basic Stimulation Module
Early prototype of the modified petri plate (left). Second generation prototypes of circuits used in actual experiments.
This set of protocols were developed under the mentorship of Oliver Medvedik
For the purpose of my research, a set of protocols were developed to insure bacteria from the electronics don't transmit into the petri plate and contaminate the experiments. The above is a performative video of the 3 sets of protocols for producing and seeding the petri plates.
Design of possible electrode configurations for further experimentation.