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Dyeing textiles with bacteria
22
Mar '17
As an alternative to toxic synthetic dyes, scientists are exploring bacteria as colour factories and a tool to generate patterns on fabrics. In a project in Rotterdam University, scientists subjected pigment producing bacteria to sound frequencies and found that pigment production was increased, indicating it could lead to scale up of bacterial dye process.
 
The research was carried out by designers Laura Luchtman and Ilfa Siebenhaar. With the help of sound engineer Eduard van Dommelen, the designers built a sound installation in a biomedical lab. By making the bacteria dance, they attempted to exclude random growth in order to create beautiful patterned fabrics.
  
The research is part of Living Colour, a biodesign research project by the two designers. Biodesign is the cross-pollination of nature, science and design in which living organisms form an integral part of the design process. 
 
It was found that sound frequencies helped speed up pigment production. While the bacteria which were not subjected to sound created stained fabrics, the dancing bacteria created plain dyed fabrics. Though the result was the opposite of what the team aimed for, the outcome may lead to ways of up scaling the bacterial dye process. 
 
Growing bacteria as a dye factory can lead to a more sustainable way to colour since these bio pigments are an alternative to synthetic, toxic textile dyes. 
 
The study takes inspiration from cymatic phenomena like Chladni figures and Faraday waves, which cause matter to take form in geometrical patterns when subjected to sound. (SV)

Fibre2Fashion News Desk – India


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