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25th Feb 2021

Animate Materials - Call to action

Institute of Making Director, Mark Miodownik, alongside colleagues at the Royal Society, have published a new report and call to action on Animate Materials

This report identifies a new and potentially transformative class of materials: materials that are created through human agency but emulate the properties of living systems. We call these ‘animate materials’ and they can be defined as those that are sensitive to their environment and able to adapt to it in a number of ways to better fulfil their function. These materials may be understood in relation to three principles of animacy. They are ‘active’, in that they can change their properties or perform actions, often by taking energy, material or nutrients from the environment; ‘adaptive’ in sensing changes in their environment and responding; and ‘autonomous’ in being able to initiate such a response without being controlled.

Want to know more and have your say? The Royal Society are seeking ideas and contributions to a “library of future materials”. What animate materials do you think could exist in the future? Are there any materials with lifelike properties that you think could have a positive impact on society? Do you think there are any down sides to this technology and, if so, what are they?

You can submit your ideas to Anyone can take part, and all ideas are welcome, whether they're practical in the here and now, or impossibly futuristic.

Image: Shape Memory Alloy in the Materials Library