A bacteria-laden shirt that ventilates in response to sweat

In 2013, bioengineer Wen Wang, then a research scientist at MIT, attended a talk on how Bacillus spores shrink in response to falling relative humidity. The research, published the following year in Nature Nanotechnology (9:137-41), focused on using this property to extract energy, but it gave Wang another idea: What if she could use shape-shifting bacteria to develop a material that would ventilate upon sensing the sweat of its wearer? “Humans are a natural source of humid air,” she says. “We thought maybe we can do something related to garments.”

Related Content