“Living” Suit: No Sweat

MIT researchers use microbial cells to design no-sweat clothing.


There’s lots of reasons I’m not a runner, and breaking into a full-out sweat and drenching my work-out clothes is on the list, albeit not the primary excuse.

Well now I have an MIT research team to thank for knocking back that reason for avoiding hard-core exercise. The team has developed a workout suit which incorporates living microbial cells into flaps in the design to self ventilate, making the suit breathable to help with comfort. Billing their gear as no-sweat clothing, the team described their use of tractable microbial cells as a means to “create functional building blocks for constructing moisture-responsive materials,” according to an article on Futurism.com.

Here’s how they got it done: They used a common nonpathogenic strain of E. coli printed out on latex sheets and then designed the cells into the ventilating flaps in the suit, the article said. The flaps, in turn, open and close in reaction to the heat and sweat generated by the wearer.

According to Futurism, this is just the first of many biofabrics percolating in the MIT lab as researchers gain access to new materials. “This work is an example of harnessing the power of biology to design new materials and devices and achieve new functions,” Xuanhe Zhao, a co-author of the study, was quoted as saying in the Futurism piece.

You can sign me up for no-sweat exercise.

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