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Brief Published: 22 Mar 2012

Killer Silk


Researchers at the Air Force Research Laboratory in Ohio in the US have developed a way to turn silk into a bacteria-killing machine.

The simple drip-dry treatment includes a substance similar to household bleach. Tests showed that silk soaked for an hour in the chlorinated solution, and then allowed to dry, killed all of the E.coli bacteria present on the fabric within 10 minutes. The fabric also proved effective at killing Anthrax spores.

Possible applications for this technology include curtains and other protective coatings that could shield buildings from bioterrorist attacks. Researcher Rajesh R. Naik says: “Given the potent bactericidal and sporicidal activity of the chlorinated silk fabrics prepared in this study, silk-Cl materials may find use in a variety of applications, including purifying water in humanitarian relief efforts and trapping or filtering toxic substances.”

Air Force Research Laboratory