Harnessing the hygroscopic and biofluorescent behaviors of genetically tractable microbial cells to design biohybrid wearables

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Science Advances  19 May 2017:
Vol. 3, no. 5, e1601984
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1601984

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Cells’ biomechanical responses to external stimuli have been intensively studied but rarely implemented into devices that interact with the human body. We demonstrate that the hygroscopic and biofluorescent behaviors of living cells can be engineered to design biohybrid wearables, which give multifunctional responsiveness to human sweat. By depositing genetically tractable microbes on a humidity-inert material to form a heterogeneous multilayered structure, we obtained biohybrid films that can reversibly change shape and biofluorescence intensity within a few seconds in response to environmental humidity gradients. Experimental characterization and mechanical modeling of the film were performed to guide the design of a wearable running suit and a fluorescent shoe prototype with bio-flaps that dynamically modulates ventilation in synergy with the body’s need for cooling.

  • bio-hybrid living actuator
  • humidity-responsive materials
  • biofluorescent behaviors
  • hygroscopic biomaterial pool
  • genetically-tractable microbial cells
  • multi-functional wearable devices
  • body heat and sweat control
  • ventilation modulation
  • bio-design

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