Bacteria and soundwaves used in textile colouring process

ROTTERDAM – Dutch-based textile designers claimed to have used bacteria to speed up the process of dyeing fibres. As part of a bio-design research project, the designers found that subjecting live bacteria to sound frequencies accelerates pigment production – in theory leading to a more sustainable way of colouring textiles.

The research was led by Laura Luchtman, founder of Kukka – a textile, surface and concept design studio based in Rotterdam which specialises in designing custom prints for fashion.
Luchtman, along with Ilfa Siebenhaar worked with sound engineer Eduard van Dommelen to produce a sound installation in a biomedical lab. Their research set out to test whether exposure to sound waves would make the bacteria grow in patterns, producing patterned textiles. The researchers say the method was inspired by Cymatics phenomena such as Chladni figures and Faraday waves, which cause matter to form geometric patterns when exposed to sound.

The researchers placed textile samples covered with bacteria into petri dishes, and positioned them directly over the speakers. They found that the bacteria, when subjected to sound, dyed the textiles in an even, plain and more saturated colour than the bacteria which were not subjected to sound. Janthinobacterium Lividum – a purple, soil-dwelling bacterium – was found to be excellent for textile dyeing under optimal conditions of 25°C.

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