Complementary biomolecules (e.g., DNA base pairs, antibody-antigen) are stable building blocks of complex biological structures. Biomolecules can also exhibit a highly specific affinity for inorganic molecules, presenting a promising method for the assembly of complex hybrid structures. Cell display uses these strong biological interactions to fabricate and organize materials in a self-assembling production system. Cell display is a protein engineering technique with two steps: 1) Produce a library of genetically encoded biomolecules in a cell population; and 2) select the biomolecules that display novel or improved interactions with a material of interest (e.g., nanoparticles of iron oxide, semiconductor quantum dots). The cells self-assemble and their bound components are organized into higher order structures. This building process can be regulated by external factors (e.g., light, temperature) and is capable of organizing materials from the molecular to the macro scale.