01-08-2016 • Article

Antimicrobial and Promicrobial Fabrics

Seetal Solanki explores the potential of bacterial-driven materials for performance wear as part of Nirvana CPH’s Material Monday series. 

With the 2016 Olympic Games right around the corner, a lot of debate is occurring around the safety of the competitors in Brazil. Safety, not in terms of violence, but of health. According to Luke Whelan of Wired Magazine, “Rio de Janeiro’s waterways are about as clean as a dirty toilet bowl—raw sewage literally flows into them every day.” Understandably, this is of extreme concern for athletes competing in certain outdoor aquatic events at the Olympics.

In an attempt to protect the US rowing team from infectious diseases, textile engineer Mark Sunderland has designed an antimicrobial suit. By weaving together synthetic fibres and adding a second layer of antimicrobial finish, the suits kill or obstruct some microorganisms on contact. The caveat, of course, is that these suits do not necessarily inhibit infections.

Researchers at A*STAR in Singapore, meanwhile, have been working to develop a material called imidazolium oligomers, which has been shown to kill 99.7 percent of E. colibacteria within 30 seconds! It can also prevent new antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria from developing.

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