Mission and Vision:
From conventional materials to living materials systems
The key goal of livMatS is to make the transition from equilibrium or "deeply frozen" metastable, and thus static, materials to dynamic, life-like, non-equilibrium materials systems. The Cluster has identified key principles to make this decisive advance towards materials systems.
Energy harvested from the environment
In the livMatS context, energy has to be harvested from the immediate environment. To convert and store the required energy, energy harvesting functionalities must be an integral part of the materials systems to provide true autonomy. Internal control over energy distribution, and active adaption to external signals will require the installation of chemical, structural, and microsystem-based regulatory networks, which will allow for self-regulating properties and generate adaptability.
Self-improving through training
Ultimately, such materials systems may exhibit self-improvement, and capabilities for simple forms of “learning” and training. However, materials systems envisioned will allow a (manual) override via human intervention when properties other than those generated automatically are desired. Such an approach will far surpass current technological pathways to so-called “smart” materials and embedded systems. Our approach will also go well beyond biology. By using the strengths of synthetic and robust materials, applications can be envisioned in environments where biological systems would clearly fail such as extreme heat or dryness.
Longevity, robustness and resilience of the system
The compartmentalization, miniaturization and integration into complex assemblies allow for the introduction of redundancies into the systems, which in turn will enable the systems to survive (limited) damage without encountering a complete system failure. This combination of fault tolerance and self-protection/-repair will increase the longevity, robustness and resilience of the system and ultimately lead to systems with self-improving properties.
The progress of livMatS science and technology will thus offer novel systems that integrate well with the human environment, feed on clean ambient energy , and serve human needs. Consequently, an integral part of livMatS research will be to reflect on the challenges and implications of these developments for the environment and society in general.
Download a more comprehensive summary of the research and vision of livMatS here:
The Vision of livMatS
Research Area A:
Concepts for energy autonomy and integration
– Harvesting, storage, conversion and distribution
Research Area B:
Concepts for adaptive and active materials systems
Research Area C:
Concepts for the longevity of system functions
Research Area D:
Sustainability and Societal Implications
Societal challenges – sustainability assessment and investigation of psychological, philosophical and ethical implications of living materials systems
Generation of technology demonstrators
Integration of Research Areas A-D