“Sensitive” gloves shine when they detect toxic
Gloves that shine when they come in contact with toxic substances have been produced by researchers at the US MIT University. Innovative gloves contain biological sensors, which consist of cells of microorganisms living and fed into a hydrogel film.
The living material of the gloves, ie their bacteria, can be changed at will so that the gloves are sensitive to various chemicals of the environment.
Engineers and biologists, headed by associate professor of biological engineering, Timothy Lou, who published in the journal of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States (PNAS), said that apart from gloves, the same material could be used for “live” bandages.
“One can put different kinds of bacteria on these devices to detect toxins in the environment or diseases on the skin,” said Lou.
The same research team has, in the past, managed – by appropriate genetic modification – to make micro-organisms shine when they come into contact with specific chemicals. Now, they went one step further and succeeded in keeping these living materials in their gloves or bandages for a while.
The “key” is a new biocompatible hydrogel – a combination of water and an elastomeric material – which, thanks to its nutrients, allows microorganisms to survive for many days outside the lab.
The new material can be used in the future in environmental monitoring, medical diagnostics, forensics, etc. In addition to gloves and bandages, the same material could be used to create shoe soles, even clothes, which will shine depending on the chemist they come into contact with.