Future Technology


Press "Play" to view an animation that depicts the glove at a microscopic level. To read about what you what you view, see below.

As illustrated in the animation above, the E. colocator Gloves are used to detect E. coli 0157:H7, and change color (from blue to white) when coming in contact with the bacterium. These disposable, non-latex gloves will have widespread use for workers in the meat slaughtering, meatpacking, and restaurant industries.

The gloves are effective because of the three key layers in their construction. The inner layer (closest to your skin) keeps the E. coli from touching the worker’s hand. The middle layer is for detection and changes color. The outer layer is porous, and allows the E. coli to move into the detection layer. A more complex description of these layers is needed to truly understand how the gloves work:

The inside layer of the E. colocator Glove (closest to your skin) is made out of acrylonitrile butadiene rubber (NBR), a copolymer of acrylonitrile and butadiene. One can select the ratio of these polymers to set the physical characteristics for our glove. The E. colocator Gloves will have a mixture of NBR with higher acrylonitrile content so that it will be air and gas impermeable and have high tensile strength. To improve impermeability even more, the rubber will be reinforced with nanoclays. Nanoclays are alumino-silicate minerals that will enhance the gas barrier and improve scratch resistance. This layer is also non-latex, to help prevent allergic reactions. Our inner layer is now a hypo-allergenic polymer nanocomposite that will protect the user from harmful bacteria.

The middle layer of the E. colocator Glove, made of silicone, contains the E. coli 0157:H7 antibody. Silicone is stable and will not interact with the sensor film or antibodies embedded on it. During actual use of the glove, E. coli 0157:H7 bacteria may come into contact with these antibodies. A binding of the antibody and antigen will cause a disturbance in the polydiacetylene (PDA) film below it, triggering the color change. The PDA film is a layer of highly organized crystals that rearrange and change color when the antibodies bind with the E. coli. The affected region of the glove turns from blue to white in color (as more and more antigens bind to the antibodies), indicating a positive test for E. coli.

The outer layer of the E. colocator Glove is made of styrene-divinylbenzene. This is porous copolymer in which the styrene is cross-linked with divinylbenzene (DVB) to produce a three dimensional structure. The degree of cross-linking is determined by the ratio of divinylbenzene to styrene. The microscopic pore-size in the outer layer is determined by the amount of cross-linking in the copolymer. These pores are designed to let E. coli bacterium diffuse through the copolymer to be exposed to the middle detection layer. The pores will be one micron in diameter (as E. coli is a micron wide) to allow the E. coli to easily pass through into the middle layer.  As is illustrated by these three layers, this glove is highly complex, but useful.  Workers in several industries will use it to save lives, and help detect a bacteria which sickens over 70,000 people in United States alone every year.

This is a cross section of our E. colocator prototype.