Now, scientists have tweaked the silk production process and made it possible to turn these somewhat freakish threads into useable fabrics.
The resulting silks glow under fluorescent light, and are only ever-so-slightly weaker than silks that are normally used for fabrics, scientists reported June 12 in Advanced Functional Materials. Already, the glowing silks have been incorporated into everyday garments such as suits and ties, and Japanese wedding dress designer Yumi Katsura has designed and made gowns that glow in the dark.
This isn’t the first study that has genetically modified silkworms (Bombyx mori). Scientists have previously engineered silkworms to produce a variety of substances, including spider silk, human collagen proteins, and glowing proteins.