Adaptive Mechanical Materials: Reconfigure, Train, Learn

Mechanical materials have been largely designed to be static or at best become switchable by outside triggers. The next fundamental challenge is to empower such materials with the capacity to truly adapt, to reconfigure their properties, or to be trained like muscles, and to potentially learn something and make decisions. Memorizing the past is the key to adapt the response for future events.

Therefore, we strive to integrate information processing routines, memory functions and functional read-outs into such materials systems by embedding metabolisms and embodied intelligence. This work is largely funded by the ERC Consolidator Grant and the DFG Cluster of Excellence of Living, Adaptive and Energy-Autonomous Systems in Freiburg. 

Our recent viewpoint article in Advanced Materials highlight the roadmap to achieve this challenge. "From Responsive to Adaptive and Interactive Materials and Materials Systems: A Roadmap" Adv. Mater. 2020, 1905111.

5 Selected References:

1. Jiao, D., Lossada, F., Guo, J., Skarsetz, O., Hoender, D., Liu, J., Walther, A. “Electrical Switching of High-Performance Bioinspired Nanocellulose Nanocomposites” Nat. Commun. 12, 1312 (2021).

2. Ludwanowski, S., Skarsetz, O., Creusen, G., Hoenders, D., Straub, P., Walther, A., “Wavelength‐Gated Adaptation of Hydrogel Properties via Photo‐Dynamic Multivalency in Associative Star Polymers“ Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 60, 4358 (2021).

3. Jiao, D.; Lossada, F.; Yu, W.; Guo, J.; Hoenders, D.; Walther, A. “Non‐Equilibrium, Light‐Adaptive, Steady‐State Reconfiguration of Mechanical Patterns in Bioinspired Nanocomposites” Adv. Funct. Mater. 1905309 (2019).

4. Merindol, R.; Delechiave, G.; Heinen, L.; Catalani, L. H.; Walther, A. “Modular Design of Programmable Mechanofluorescent DNA Hydrogels” Nature Commun. 10, 529 (2019).


5. Zhu, B.; Noack, M.; Merindol, R.; Barner-Kowollik, C.; Walther, A. “Light-Adaptive Supramolecular Nacre-Mimetic Nanocomposites” Nano Lett. 16, 5167 (2016) (Highlighted in SCIENCE; 353, 787, 2016).


1. Walther, A.; “From Responsive to Adaptive and Interactive Materials and Materials Systems: A Roadmap” Adv. Mater. 1905111 (2020). Invited View Point for a Special Issue on Interactive Materials 

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