Science Scope

A new living, fungus-filled plastic cleans your spilt food

A new living, fungus-filled plastic cleans your spilt food

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Wouldn't it be great if we never had to clean up spilt food again? A novel plastic brings that day closer.

Normally, we associate stinky cheese with, well, stinkiness.

But Swiss scientists have created a special plastic that houses the kind of fungus you eat in blue cheese ... and instead of being stinky, it self-cleans.

That means that if you spill, say, soup on the porous plastic, the fungus in the plastic can "eat" it up.

The researchers designed a plastic with special layers that house Penicilium roqueforti -- yes, as in the medicine penicillin, and, yes, as in Roquefort cheese.

The plastic is porous enough that nutrients and gases can flow in and out, but not so porous that the fungus won't remain in the plastic.

The scientists say the unique material, which was described in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is flexible. Someday, it could be transferred to the surfaces of everyday consumer goods and could lead to self-sterilizing materials.

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photo: Roquefort cheese (Airunp/Wikimedia)

via: Scientific American, PNAS

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Laura Shin

Features Editor

Laura Shin has been published in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Los Angeles Times, and is currently a contributor at Forbes. Previously, she worked at Newsweek, the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and LearnVest. She holds degrees from Stanford University and Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure