Porous ceramic, polymer and metal materials with pores created by biological fermentation


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United States Patent and Trademark Office


Porous polymers are made by adding biologically active agent and growth substrates (e.g., yeast and sugar, preferably in the presence of water or other suitable fluid) to a polymer forming material, which may be a liquid. The yeast acts on the sugar, forming carbon dioxide gas bubbles. The material is then polymerized so that the gas bubbles create permanent pores within the polymeric material. The polymer can be an epoxy for example. The pores will contain residue of the yeast. Also, porous metals can be made by combining a metal powder with yeast, sugar, and water. The porous metal paste is then sintered. Porous ceramics and semiconductors can be made by combining the yeast and sugar with a ceramic forming liquid such as polysilazane. Polysilazane converts to silica when heated, which helps to bind the ceramic or semiconductor powder particles at a reduced temperature. Biological agents other than yeast (e.g. bacteria, enzymes), and growth substrates other than sugar can also be used.