We live in a world full of wonderful stuff that we use to build modern cities. But so much of human history has been taken up with inventing and making this new stuff, that looking after it all has got rather onerous. Our cars are more reliable, more economical, and more comfortable, but they have also become more complicated – so that repairing them requires specialist diagnostic equipment. Similarly, it is beyond most people’s ability to repair their phone when it breaks. Even manufacturers would rather replace something than mend it. Infrastructure still gets fixed but this too is becoming increasingly difficult and expensive. In this talk I discuss our work creating self-repairing materials and engineering systems; the importance of a multidisciplinary approach to achieve this goal; and the environmental dividends of success.
Mark Miodownik is the UCL Professor of Materials & Society. He received his Ph.D in turbine jet engine alloys from Oxford University, and has worked as a materials engineer in the USA, Ireland and the UK. For more than twenty years he has championed materials science research that links to the arts and humanities, medicine, and society. This culminated in the establishment of the UCL Institute of Making, where he is a director and runs the research programme. Mark is an award winning author and regularly presents BBC TV and radio programmes on materials science and engineering. In 2014 he was elected a fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering. In 2018 he was awarded the Max Planck Gottingen Institutes Medal for science communication.
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