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Chemistry In Pictures

Chemistry in Pictures: Fabric factory

by Craig Bettenhausen
March 23, 2021

A set of tall racks of trays have white fluffy stuff growing out of them.
Credit: Bolt Threads
A model smoulders at the camera wearing a black bustier and pants, both of which shine like leather.
Credit: Courtesy of Bolt Threads/Stella McCartney

The tufts of white fluff in the factory photo above will soon undergo a stark transformation into the black, leatherlike material adorning this model. The trays are full of mycelium, the root structure of mushrooms, which the next-generation materials company Bolt Threads is growing on sawdust under carefully controlled conditions. Thanks to a collaboration between Bolt and fashion designer Stella McCartney, vegetarians and vegans will have new high-end sartorial options soon. McCartney invested in Bolt’s Mylo material, and is coming out with tops and trousers made with the firm’s “unleather.” C&EN readers may recognize Bolt from their work on spider silk expressed in yeast cells. For now, Bolt CEO Dan Widmair is working hard on scaling up Mylo, he tells C&EN, but he has several more biobased materials innovations literally in the freezer.

Credit: Bolt Threads

To read more about Mylo and other leather alternatives making their way to the market, check out our recent feature story here.

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