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Credits: Aniela Hoitink
Year of Invention: 2017
Description: Biodegradable conductive mycelium textile

Initially I started using technology in textiles also as a way to make the consumer keep their clothes for a longer period of time. However seeing that people are buying a new mobile phone every year just to have the latest technology, it made me realize that this idea was not right. I wondered why we still are making clothes that should last for 40 years, even though we are wearing them for one or two years nowadays. Also the integration of technology in textiles is open for debate. Do we combine them, so they remain easy removable / changeable or are we really going to integrate the technology? And what are the consequences of this integration for recycling? What if we combine technology with biodegradable materials? Can we decompose that material so that after this process we simply collect and recycle all the electronics?
For 2,5 years I am working on a biodegradable material called MycoTEX. For the swatch exchange I am developing MycoTEX with conductive threads, in order to make a testcase for biodegradable materials with electronics.

I have taken inspiration from Giulia Tomasello’s project were she tries to create biomaterials and proposes an alternative application to our current electronic components: http://etextile-summercamp.org/swatch-exchange/conductive-kombucha/
Another reference is my swatch of last year where I am researching the diffusion of LED lighting: http://etextile-summercamp.org/swatch-exchange/diffused-lights-dynamic-skin/

Conductive MycoTEX

mycelium, Petri dishes, nutrients, conductive yarn, SMD LED
laboratory – mycelium needs to grow in a sterile environment

We start with growing the mycelium. Here is a website were you can obtain different mushrooms, pure cultures and other materials: https://www.homegreen.nl/?language=en
For growing mycelium you will need to work in an sterile environment. If you do not have access to this, here is a link to make your own: https://github.com/BioHackAcademy/BHA_SterileHood
Link to making agar plates: http://teach.genetics.utah.edu/content/microbiology/plates/
Here are some useful tips for low-tech microbiology tools: http://teach.genetics.utah.edu/content/microbiology/lowtech/

One recipe is to make a potato dextrose agar, but there are many recipes, depending on the mushroom that you are using.http://teach.genetics.utah.edu/content/microbiology/media/
Here is the recipe for PDA:
1 L demineralised water
4 gr. potato starch
20 gr. dextrose
15 gr. agar agar
Start by boiling this until everything is dissolved. Then autoclave the liquid in a glass bottle in a pressure cooker. Be sure to leave the bottle cap a bit open (not screwed tightly) so steam can go out of your bottle.  You don’t want your bottle to explode. Autoclave for 20 minutes at 120 degrees in a pressure cooker. Let it cool down a little bit, not too long, otherwise the agar will become stiff before pooring. Go to your clean room and poor a small layer of agar into each Petri dish near the flame. Let it cool down, so it becomes stiff.

autoclaving agar agar  pooring agar agar into Petri dish

Then inoculated a little piece of mycelium into your fresh plate. Close the lid and put it up side down into a warm room at 30 degrees Celcius and wait for the plate to grow. This will take about 1 to 1,5 weeks.

take a piece of mycelium  and place this onto the agar plate

Cut 2 pieces of conductive thread to the desired length (12 cm) and tin the ends to prevent the thread of becoming loose. Make a “mold” to know where you want to place the SMD LED and tape the side of a thread to the table, so it will be more stable when soldering. First tin the thread on the position of the SMD LED and then tin this area to the SMD LED. Then tape the second thread onto the table and repeat for the other connection. Test with a battery if all the connections are working, i.e. your SMD LED is burning. Tape the top threads to the side of a table, with a little distance between the threads. Tape the bottom side so, that the threads are not touching to each other.

soldering SMD LEDs  coating threads and SMD LEDs

Take the mycelium out of your plate and cut away as much of the agar. Place one piece of mycelium onto cling foil. Position the SMD LED threads on the center and tape the sides onto the table. The place another piece of mycelium (remove agar as much as possible) on top and let it dry.

Dimensions (in cm): 9 cm circular

Photo (of sample swatch):

myco with lights - 03 Conductive MycoTEX

Patterns, Templates, Schematics, Circuit Diagrams (where applicable):

Conductive MycoTEX schematic

Other link(s):

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