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TECH SPACE
'Naturally' glowing cotton yields dazzling new threads
by Staff Writers
Washington DC (SPX) Sep 22, 2017


Digital camera image from in vitro cotton model after incorporation of exogenous molecules with new functionalities. This material relates to a paper that appeared in the Sept. 15, 2017, issue of Science, published by AAAS. The paper, by F. Natalio at Martin-Luther-Universitat Halle-Wittenberg in Halle, Germany, and colleagues was titled, "Biological fabrication of cellulose fibers with tailored properties."

Cotton that's grown with molecules that endow appealing properties - like fluorescence or magnetism - may one day eliminate the need for applying chemical treatments to fabrics to achieve such qualities, a new study suggests.

Applying synthetic polymers to fabrics can result in a range of appealing properties, but anything added to a fabric can get washed or worn away.

Furthermore, while many fibers used in fabrics are synthetic (e.g., polyester), some consumers prefer natural fibers to avoid issues related to sensation, skin irritation, smoothness, and weight.

Here, Filipe Natalio and colleagues created cotton fibers that incorporate composites with fluorescent and magnetic properties.

They synthesized glucose derivatives that deliver the desirable molecules into the growing ovules of the cotton plant, Gossypium hirsutum.

Thus, the molecules are embedded into the cotton fibers themselves, rather than added in the form of a chemical treatment.

The resulting fibers exhibited fluorescent or magnetic properties, respectively, although they were weaker than raw fibers lacking the embedded composites, the authors report.

They propose that similar techniques could be expanded to other biological systems such as bacteria, bamboo, silk, and flax - essentially opening a new era of "material farming."

Research paper

TECH SPACE
Sand mining demand outpaces caution and knowledge
East Lansing MI (SPX) Sep 22, 2017
Sand, spanning miles of beaches, carpeting vast oceans and deserts, is a visual metaphor for limitless resources. Yet researchers in this week's journal Science seize another metaphor - sand in an hourglass, marking time running out. Sand is the literal foundation of urban development across the globe, a key ingredient of concrete, asphalt, glass, and electronics. It is cheap and easily ex ... read more

Related Links
American Association for the Advancement of Science
Space Technology News - Applications and Research


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