Opportunity: Biosensors that combine high sensitivity and high precision
Opportunity: Biomimetic structures that mimic the specificity of T cells in identifying and selecting pathogens
The large number of motors that convert chemical energy into mechanical energy ensures that the properties of living species cannot be described with an equilibrium description but must instead be described in the framework of nonequilibrium systems.
Opportunity: New description of biological function for materials development
The essential design principles that describe the mechanical properties of a cell are not fully understood. Some cell components are under tension, while others balance this and are under compression. They are under a steady pre-stress, which apparently drives them into a nonlinear elastic state. The relationship between these properties and the mechanical behavior of the cell remains undetermined or only poorly determined as does the biological rationale for this behavior. However, the design principles for the elasticity of the cell must be understood if its behavior is to be mimicked.
Opportunity: Actively controlled biomolecular materials using molecular motors
Opportunity: Highly adaptable and controllable biomolecular materials
Biological systems possess very high specificity in their ability to recognize molecules and to respond and control themselves when this recognition occurs. This ability to very precisely recognize specific targets can be exploited to create new functional materials.
Opportunity: Exploit specificity of DNA interactions to fabricate biomolecular materials
Opportunity: Use viruses as building blocks for the assembly of more complex materials
Opportunity: Mimic viral function in synthetic materials
Biological systems are the ultimate example of the construction of highly complex structures and systems from simple and common building blocks. This is accomplished by very fine control of the spatiotemporal assembly. Mimicking this behavior would allow changing the paradigm of manufacturing by following the model of biological systems.
Opportunity: New manufacturing capability that relies on self-assembly
Much of the diversity in all living species comes from their ability to evolve, changing both their structure and their function in response to external pressure. Understanding the details of how this is accomplished will allow the development of synthetic bioinspired materials that are able to evolve themselves when external pressures are applied.