Students TU Delft won several prizes in Boston with bio-lenses

News - 02 November 2016

Students from the TU Delft have won several prizes on Monday 31st of October at the International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) competition in Boston.

With their project ‘Opticoli’, making bacteria cells that produce a bio-lens themselves, they won the golden medal. Besides that, they won three additional prices: best new application, best model and most innovative DNA fragment. In these categories they were the best out of all teams coming from the whole world. The team was also nominated for best website.

Cells with a function

After months of hard work the TU Delft team competed against 300 other international teams from the whole world in Boston. iGEM is a competition to solve social problems by using synthetic biology: alternating the DNA of microorganisms. Using synthetic biology you can give the cells a specific function. The challenge of the TU Delft iGEM team was to let cells of bacteria produce a lens. Esengül Yildirim, one of the mentors of the team: “A half year of hard work in the lab has paid off. Not everything we tried to develop was successful, like the bio laser, but it’s really cool that our unique research to bio lenses is internationally appreciated.”

iGEM competition

From the 28th to 31st of October, the iGEM team has competed against hundreds of international teams in Boston. There all teams give a presentation of their project in front of a jury. Besides that, there is an opportunity to learn from each other, because all the teams have their own place to present a poster. Each team also made their own website. The evaluation of the jury is based on these three parts together.

Not only can you win the grand prize for the best team, there are also all kinds of other prizes to win. Each team signs up for a certain specialization, this varies from food to art. The Dutch team from the TU Delft was assigned to the specialization ‘New Application’. This challenged them, next to producing their biolenses, to go deeper into the innovative side of their project. Besides that, you can win on all kinds of sub parts of the competition, like the best website, best model and best hardware.

Cheap lenses

To realise the bio-lens, the students from the TU Delft have altered the DNA from bacteria cells in such a way that it produces new proteins. The proteins, like a sea sponge produces them, are used to make a glass layer around the cell. With this glass layer the cell produces a biological lens. 

Solar cells

The bio-lenses are much cheaper and environmentally friendlier than industrial produced microlenses. This makes them interesting to use them on solar cells. There is already proven that microlenses can substantially improve the efficiency of solar cells. However, now it is also affordable with these cheap biological lenses to bring this idea into practice. 

More information

Website iGEM team Delft
Official website iGEM competition 2016

Contact: Célina Reuvers, communication iGEM team,, +31(0)654748053

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