Silkworms on a diet make fluorescent silk, could green the coloring process

Making silkworms produce fluorescent silk could make the coloring process a little more environmentally friendly - less water, less dye. There are also medical applications too.
Written by Boonsri Dickinson, Contributing Editor

Wow. Give silkworms a special diet of mulberries and fluorescent dye, so they can spin out a pink-colored fiber.

Researchers at the Institute of Materials Research and Engineering in Singapore discovered this natural way of coloring materials.

Not only is the process cost effective, it can be rolled out on an industrial scale. It's environmentally friendly because you could save on a lot of water and dye used in the traditional coloring process.

As a bonus, the silk could be custom-made to have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.

It's worth mentioning that in September of 2010, other researchers genetically engineered silkworms to make artificial spider silk.

“This research represents a significant breakthrough in the development of superior silk fibers for both medical and non-medical applications,” Notre Dame professor Malcolm J. Fraser Jr. said in a statement. “The generation of silk fibers having the properties of spider silks has been one of the important goals in materials science.”

The artificial spider silk might even find its way into athletic clothing and much more. In the future, large scale production of artificial spider silk could lead to the development of stronger fibers for textiles, bandages for burn victims, and bulletproof vests.

New Silkworm Dye Method Could Help Build Silks With Medicinal Properties [Popular Science]

Photo: Dr. Natalia Tansil via New Scientist

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