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Research Highlight: Stupp

Synthetic materials mimic living creatures

Northwestern University researchers have developed a family of soft materials that imitates living creatures.

When hit with light, the film-thin materials come alive — bending, rotating and even crawling on surfaces.

Called “robotic soft matter" by the Northwestern team, the materials move without complex hardware, hydraulics or electricity. The researchers believe the lifelike materials could carry out many tasks, with potential applications in energy, environmental remediation and advanced medicine. “We live in an era in which increasingly smarter devices are constantly being developed to help us manage our everyday lives,” said Northwestern’s Samuel I. Stupp, who led the experimental studies. “The next frontier is in the development of new science that will bring inert materials to life for our benefit — by designing them to acquire capabilities of living creatures.”

The research was published (June 22) in the journal Nature Materials.

For more on the story read Northwestern Now.  

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