Bioactive Ink

I usually don’t talk about “future stuff”, preferring to stay with the practical. However, this is fascinating.

Supposed you had a face mask or a wrist band or a scarf or tie that would change color when you came into contact with a coronavirus particle? Or would alert you to the presence of carbon monoxide or another dangerous chemical? Would that make a difference to you?

With bioactive ink, the colors would mean something!

Researchers in Engineering at Tufts University in Boston have come up with inks with this capability:

The inks can be screen printed onto textiles such as clothes, shoes, or even face masks in complex patterns and at high resolution, providing a detailed map of human response or exposure. The advance in wearable sensing, reported in Advanced Materials, could simultaneously detect and quantify a wide range of biological conditions, molecules and, possibly, pathogens over the surface of the body using conventional garments and uniforms.(1)

In terms of enabling you to protect yourself, this is huge. How soon it will be on the market? Hopefully very soon, starting with the scrubs worn by hospital workers and uniforms worn by EMTs.


  1. Giusy Matzeu, Laia Mogas‐Soldevila, Wenyi Li, Arin Naidu, Trent H. Turner, Roger Gu, Patricia R. Blumeris, Patrick Song, Daniel G. Pascal, Giulia Guidetti, Meng Li, Fiorenzo G. Omenetto. Large‐Scale Patterning of Reactive Surfaces for Wearable and Environmentally Deployable Sensors. Advanced Materials, 2020; 2001258 DOI: 10.1002/adma.202001258
  2. Tufts University. “New smart fabrics from bioactive inks monitor body and environment by changing color: Bioactive inks printed on wearable textiles can map conditions over the entire surface of the body.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 June 2020.

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