Engineered living materials: A new frontier in Synthetic Biology

Materials come alive

Synthetic biology is being incorporated into materials science to create a new class of engineered, functional living materials. These materials can sense, grow and adapt like biological organisms.

Nature has inspired the development of materials that have improved properties and functionalities for a long time. To date, however, no synthetic material is able to capture the complexity of natural materials. Living organisms are unique because of their multifunctionality, ability to self-repair and sense the environment, and to adapt and grow in a sustainable and autonomous manner. Engineered living materials uses these characteristics to create biological materials that have programmable functions using engineering tools borrowed directly from synthetic biology. This focus issue features a Perspective and Article that highlight the synergies of synthetic biology and biomaterial science to create next-generation engineered materials with tailored functionality.