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

May 19, 2017


Wen Wang, Lining Yao, Chin-Yi Cheng, Teng Zhang, Hiroshi Atsumi, Luda Wang, Guanyun Wang, Oksana Anilionyte, Helene Steiner, Jifei Ou, Kang Zhou, Chris Wawrousek, Katherine Petrecca, Angela M. Belcher, Rohit Karnik, Xuanhe Zhao,*, Daniel I. C. Wang,* and Hiroshi Ishii,*Science Advances 19 May 2017: Vol. 3, no. 5, e1601984 DOI: 10.1126/sciad


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.

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