Abstract

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.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2402097
JournalAdvanced Functional Materials
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 19 Mar 2024
MoE publication typeA2 Review article, Literature review, Systematic review

Keywords

  • biological production
  • feedback loop
  • homeostasis
  • living materials
  • memory
  • non-equilibrium
  • stimuli-responsive

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  • -: LIBER 2/Timonen

    Timonen, J.

    01/01/202431/12/2026

    Project: Academy of Finland: Other research funding

  • -: LIBER Sammalkorpi II

    Sammalkorpi, M.

    01/01/202431/12/2026

    Project: Academy of Finland: Other research funding

  • -: LIBER Linder II

    Linder, M.

    01/01/202431/12/2026

    Project: Academy of Finland: Other research funding

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