These Smart Gloves Use Bacteria-Sensing Silk to Warn of Risky Exposure

By Gizmodo on at

The gloves in the picture above may look fairly normal, right? Except for that warning message on the side, which is made from a clever silk compound that changes colour once they’re exposed to bacteria such as E. coli. This breakthrough provides a means of spotting and avoiding exposure to such diseases.

The gloves have been developed by a team from Tufts University as a proof of concept for a new type of silk compound. The team has been able to develop a way to lace molecules of the super material that is silk with enzymes, antibiotics, antibodies and nanoparticles to imbue them with new features. In this case, they’ve been doped with a compound that changes colour, from blue to red, when in the presence of E. coli.

From there the team has also developed a way to print the molecules, using inkjet printing to deposit them upon a surface. The result in this case is a pair of surgical gloves whose warning message shows up in red when they come into contact with the potentially dangerous bacteria. The research is published in Advanced Materials.

But, as we say, this is really a proof of concept. The team behind the research reckons it could develop a host of bio-sensors to detect other threatening bacteria and molecules, or bandages doped with drugs and antibiotics that can release them in intelligent ways. [Advanced Materials via The Engineer]