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Materials Inspired by Living Functions

Engineering or mimicking living materials found in nature has the potential to transform traditional static materials into dynamic systems having selected functions of living organisms. In this perspective, how such materials can be approached is discussed from two perspectives: engineering of biological organism to provide the basis for new materials or producing synthetic materials with life?inspired functions.Engineering or mimicking living materials found in nature has the potential to transform the use of materials. Unlike classic synthetic materials which are typically optimized for static properties, economics, and recently also for sustainability, materials of life are dynamic, feedback?controlled, evolving, and adaptive. Although synthetic materials do not typically exhibit such complicated functionalities, researchers are increasingly challenging this viewpoint and expanding material concepts toward dynamic systems inspired by selected life?like functions. Herein, it is suggested that such materials can be approached from two perspectives: through engineering of biological organisms and their functions to provide the basis for new materials, or by producing synthetic materials with selected rudimentary life?inspired functions. Current advances are discussed from the perspectives of (i) new material features based on built?in memory and associative learning, (ii) emergent structures and self?regulated designs using non?equilibrium systems, and (iii) interfacing living and non?living systems in the form of cellular community control and growth to open new routes for material fabrication. Strategies combining (i)–(iii) provide materials with increasingly life?inspired responses and potential for applications in interactive autonomous devices, helping to realize next?generation sensors, autonomous and interactive soft robots, and external control over the bioproduction of self?organizing structural materials.

Publication date: 19/03/2024

VTT (Artículos)


This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 870292.