Living structures can respond to changing environmental conditions with nuanced and diverse reactions. This should also be true for the materials systems developed in livMatS. Beyond that, the materials systems envisioned should be capable of self-improvement and simple forms of “learning” and training. Research will focus on the three important soft material classes:
natural and synthetic polymers, DNA, and peptides or proteins.
These soft material classes have the potential to integrate diverse switching and information-processing systems that are molecularly controlled, correlated, and self-regulating.
Based on these approaches, the adaptive soft macromolecular materials systems developed in livMatS will break with present concepts of responsive materials that mostly shift passively between equilibrium states. Instead, materials systems should exhibit complex adaptation mechanisms, such as adaptation to non-trivial functional states similar to those encountered in metamaterials or shape morphing, linear and non-linear signal strength-dependent adaptation, and exposure frequency-dependent adaptation.