Silk worms made to spin coloured silk, Australian Geographic // 10 March 2011
SILK WORMS THAT PRODUCE vibrantly coloured and luminescent silks have been created by scientists in Singapore. The resulting fibre offers a cheap way to circumvent the dying process and may even have medical applications.
“The new, more environmentally friendly method allows us to integrate colours into the very fabric of silk and does away with the need for manual dyeing,” says Dr Natalia Tansil, lead researcher behind the technology at the Institute of Materials Research and Engineering (IMRE) in Singapore.
By feeding silkworms a mulberry mixture containing fluorescent dye, Natalia’s team was able to harvest brightly coloured silk that is structurally unaffected, but which also has luminescent, or glowing, properties. The dye molecules are ingrained within the silk filaments to create permanent colour.