MIT’s bacteria-powered material, bioLogic, will literally make your skin crawl

BioLogic is an innovative second skin with an automated ventilation system that is powered by living organisms.

A collaboration between Tangible Media Group, MIT and New Balance has resulted in a breakthrough in bio-skin technology. BioLogic is a new material designed to react to heat and sweat through living bacteria that are built into the fabric using a micron-scale bio-printing system.  

The innovation is centred around an ancient bacteria called Bacillus Subtilis natto, which was first discovered a thousand years ago by a Japanese samurai. The bacteria was used as a fermentation tool in the preparation of a traditional Japanese dish until it was recently discovered that the cells were able to expand and contract in response to moisture in the air. The MIT team are now growing this bacteria in their labs and using it as a living actuator – a motor that controls a mechanism – to design a hybrid, organism-powered, responsive material.

The technology has now been incorporated into a vest that has been designed with flaps, which open when the body heats up, to allow sweat to evaporate and cool down the body. Backed by New Balance, the fabric is destined to create a significant advancement in smart sportswear.