In the past few years, many efforts have been made to take advantage of the biological activities of living cells to design functional materials. Applications in biotechnology and biomedical devices include the development of biosensors, i.e., the detection of analytes through the specific response of cells, and biocatalysts or bioreactors, i.e., the transformation or production of specific medical molecules by cells. In many cases, living cells cannot be used as such and need to be stabilized via encapsulation in suitable host matrices. Although polymer-based matrices have long been used for such applications, recent studies indicate that mineral hosts, and more...

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