Using Lessons from Cellular and Molecular Structures for Future Materials


  • This work was supported by NIH R01#GM066817 to D.N.R.


Cells and molecules exhibit robust and efficient characteristics that occur as a result of highly organized and hierarchical structures within these small scale living systems. These structures have the ability to adapt themselves to a wide variety of stimuli, including mechanical and chemical environmental changes, which ultimately affect behavior including cell life and death. The characteristics of these structures can be utilized as they provide unique advantages for building a future generation of material science technologies. In this article, we provide an overview of the similarities between materials and living cells, and discuss specific types of biological materials including cytoskeletal elements, DNA, and molecular motors that have already been leveraged to build unique functional materials. The future challenge will be to continue to use the scientific discoveries of today with upcoming discoveries in cellular and molecular science, and apply these principles to develop as yet unknown technologies and materials.