When Clothing and Biology Meet

Would you wear a garment that was alive?

You may get a chance.  According to the March 2016 issue of Smithsonian magazine (page 18), MIT Media Lab researchers have found a way to incorporate live bacteria into a synthetic fabric.  They’ve chosen a bacteria that quickly changes shape in response to moisture.  With such a fabric , when the wearer heats up, the bacteria will expand and open dozens of very small triangular flaps to release heat.  After the heat is released and the skin dries, the bacteria will contract, thus closing the flaps.  Work on this technology is progressing very well, except they still have to make the fabric washable.

In case you’re wondering, the bacterium species is Bacillus subtilis natto, which is used in Japan to ferment food.  There’s an excellent description at http://www.digitaltrends.com/cool-tech/biofilm-clothing-ancient-bacteria-morphs-sweat/

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