Researchers at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) have developed a new ink that can be used for 3-D printing and for tattooing in the future. The ink is made out of a gel and genetically programmed bacterial cells. The cells can be programmed to detect various chemicals and then light up. Right now the new ink can be printed in 3-D structures with bacterias in different layers being programmed to react to different stimuli. The gel contains mostly water and some nutrients for the bacterias.
The team demonstrated the ink by printing a ”living tattoo” on a thin piece of rubber in the shape of a tree. Each branch of the tree was programmed to detect a different chemical. The patch was then adhered to skin that was exposed to the chemicals that the bacteria was programmed to detect. As the different branches detected the chemicals they lit up.
The researchers envision a future where the technology is advanced enough to manufacture living computers, flexible customized sensors. The technique can also be used to implant subdermal bacterias that are programmed to detect certain chemicals and then manufacture and release medicaments in the blood stream. Imagine a future where your tattoos can tell you that you are ill and then administer the appropriate medicine – without the need to even talk to your doctor.