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Light Sensitive Spatially Controlled Micromachining of Copper Wafers Using Acidithiobacillus Ferrooxidans

The Columbia-Cooper iGEM team is working with Acidithiobacillus ferrooxidans to create a light-controlled printed circuit board manufacturing process. This bacteria’s metabolism relies on its ability to oxidize iron; the iron can then be used to oxidize, and in turn solubilize, copper. By genetically altering the bacteria, we intend to install a light sensitive mechanism which will enable us to etch copper in a desired pattern, leaving a finished circuit board. Once a blank printed circuit board is placed in a thin layer of solid media, the bacteria will be applied onto the surface of the media and light will be focused on it in a desired pattern. The light sensitive mechanism in ferrooxidans would activate and self-destruct in the pathway of the light. In the end, the circuit board will be "etched" by the bacteria everywhere but the illuminated spots, leaving the desired pattern behind on the circuit board.