Brief

Researchers are developing structural materials that mimic living tissue to sustain and repair themselves over time. A Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency program focuses on a relatively new research field called Engineered Living Materials that could also eliminate centralized manufacturing with materials that could be grown locally wich shows the beneficial effects of bactria on construction industry.

 

Insight

(Nanowerk Spotlight) The structural materials that are currently used in our human-built environments wear out due to age and damage, and have limited ability to respond to changes in their immediate surroundings. In contrast, living biological materials like bone, skin, bark, and coral, have attributes that provide advantages over the non-living materials people build with – they can be grown where needed, self-repair when damaged, and respond to changes in their surroundings.

Simply put: Biological systems in nature assemble living materials that are autonomously patterned, can self-repair and can sense and respond to their environment; however, engineering materials typically cannot (grown engineering materials are not entirely new, e.g. wood, but they are rendered inert during the manufacturing process, so they exhibit few of their components’ original biological advantages).

The inclusion of living materials in human-built environments could offer significant benefits. Unfortunately, scientists and engineers are unable to easily control the size and shape of living materials in ways that would make them useful for construction.
This has led to the emergence of a relatively new research field: Engineered Living Materials (ELMs). This is a novel class of materials that exploit the properties of living organisms.

DARPA has even launched an Engineered Living Materials program seeking to “revolutionize military logistics and construction in remote, austere, high-risk, and/or post-disaster environments by developing living biomaterials that combine the structural properties of traditional building materials with attributes of living systems, including the ability to rapidly grow in situ, self-repair, and adapt to the environment.”

 

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