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SciArt of the Day: Fermented Fashions

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Donna Franklin and Gary Cass' Fermented Fashion

Donna Franklin and Gary Cass' Fermented Fashion; image © Ray Scott

What happens when you take a bag of sweaty hockey gear and throw it in a vat of beer for a week? I’m not sure (although I’m sure this must have been tried before), but a researcher and an artist at the University of Western Australia are trying their own fermented fashion experiment. Using a common vinegar-producing bacteria, Acetobacter, Gary Cass and Donna Franklin create mats of bacterial cellulose which can be shaped and dried to create garments.

The material is more than a freakshow novelty, however. Cass is currently working on medical applications for dressing wounds with microbial cloth. He touts its properties of low-porosity as beneficial for keeping wounds sterile, its transluscence for being able to monitor the wound’s healing, its ability to adhere to the skin without tricky adhesives, and its 100% biodegradability. He even has a student using this cloth as a scaffold of sorts to grow an artificial liver outside the body.

Microbial Bandage

Gary Cass' Microbial Bandage; image © Ray Scott

Micro’be Fermented Fashion by Donna Franklin and Gary Cass

Kalliopi Monoyios About the Author: Kalliopi Monoyios is an independent science illustrator. She has illustrated several popular science books including Neil Shubin's Your Inner Fish and The Universe Within, and Jerry Coyne's Why Evolution is True. Find her at Follow on Twitter @symbiartic.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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