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UK researcher develops soil bacteria-laced fabric
05
Jan '15
courtesy: Natsai Audrey Chieza
courtesy: Natsai Audrey Chieza
London-based professor of synthetic biology at University College, Natsai Audrey Chieza, has developed traditional fabric with the dye and pattern created by soil bacteria, in a textile project named ‘Faber Futures’.

The innovative designer discovered that certain bacteria, taken from the soil in the roots of herbs such as tarragon and sage, would create different colours when cultured.

Chieza experimented with bacteria figuring out the intricacies of making a perfect culture. She discovered that like dye, bacteria are capable of producing rich, jewel-toned hues.

To make the scarves, Chieza folded a piece of silk into a 150mm petri dish. The silk was inoculated with a small amount of live non-pathogenic bacteria called streptomyces, and as it incubates over the next few days, the scarf changes to purple, blue, pink, and red colour.

Things like pH levels, length of incubation temperature, and the size of the petri dish all impact the visual outcome.

The uniquely created colours, which range from deep blue to bright red, can stain silk fabrics, and when these fabrics are actually placed in the culture, a similarly unique pattern is created as the microbes soak up the fabric.

The technique is more than just an interesting way to incorporate biotechnology into fashion; the use of bacteria to produce fabric dyes is sustainable as well, as the bacteria can be grown into ink ‘factories.’

Chieza hopes to eventually create a whole collection of garments, each documenting the life cycle of a different bacterial colony. The innovative idea is expected to help get one step closer to a future bio-revolution, in which design and science work hand-in-hand to yield environment-friendly. (GK)

Fibre2fashion News Desk - India

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