How do you make a bespoke material with graphene-like properties? By putting bacteria to work using a 3D printer. Such bacteria could create brand new materials. For example, if you could use bacteria to print a substance resembling graphene – the 2D material made of single-atom layers of carbon – the end product might have similar desirable properties.
When placed on sheets of graphene oxide, certain bacteria can turn it into a reduced version of the compound, which shares many properties with graphenebut is easier to produce in large amounts. The bacteria do this by pulling oxygen atoms off the material as they metabolise.