• Opportunity: Design new enzymes or microbes with improved functionality

  • Opportunity: Improved efficiency for biofuel production

  • Opportunity: Materials that are self-healing to recover from disruption

  • All living species carry the full information about their structure and function, as well as information about the nature of the complete system. This information is carried through sequence-specific structure, and understanding the details of this information storage and propagation will facilitate the design of bioinspired systems that incorporate this ability.

    • Opportunity: Materials that can self-replicate

    • Opportunity: Materials that can adapt by changing the stored information

    • Opportunity: Modification of materials properties with analogues of RNAi


Arnold, F.H. “Design by directed evolution,” Accounts of Chemical Research 31:125 (1998).

Janmey, P.A., and D.A. Weitz, “Dealing with mechanics: Mechanisms of force transduction in cells,” Trends in Biochemical Science 29:364 (2004).

Mizuno, D., C. Tardin, C.F. Schmidt, and F.C. MacKintosh, “Nonequilibrium mechanics of active cytoskeletal networks,” Science 315:70 (2007).

Nicolis, G., and I. Prigogine, Self-Organization in Nonequilibrium Systems, New York, N.Y.: John Wiley & Sons, 1977.

Thorpe, M.F., and A.E. Carlsson, The Role of Theory in Biological Physics and Materials: A Report to the National Science Foundation. Available online at http://biophysics.asu.edu/workshop/report/pdf/bio_mat.pdf. Last accessed on March 24, 2008.

Whitesides, G.M., and B.A. Grzybowski, “Self-assembly at all scales,” Science 295:2418-2421 (2002).

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement