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Living Materials

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Can we create a world of living materials that have the characteristics of biological systems: self-replication, self-regulation, self-healing, environmental responsiveness and self-sustainability? Engineered Living Materials (ELMs) are defined as engineered materials composed of living cells that form or assemble the material itself or modulate the functional performance of the material in some manner. The proposed Big Idea would push the boundaries and frontiers of synthetic biology, materials engineering, nanotechnology, biomaterials, artificial intelligence and directed evolution into new realms.

This video was produced for the NSF 2026 Idea Machine Competition.

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