Viewpoint: Homeostasis as Inspiration—Toward Interactive Materials


Lerch MM, Grinthal A, Aizenberg J. Viewpoint: Homeostasis as Inspiration—Toward Interactive Materials. Advanced MaterialsAdvanced MaterialsAdv. Mater. 2020;32 (20) :1905554.

Date Published:



Abstract Homeostatic systems combine an ability to maintain integrity over time with an incredible capacity for interactive behavior. Fundamental to such systems are building blocks of ?mini-homeostasis?: feedback loops in which one component responds to a stimulus and another opposes the response, pushing the module to restore its original configuration. Particularly when they cross time and length scales, perturbation of these loops by external changes can generate diverse and complex phenomena. Here, it is proposed that by recognizing and implementing mini-homeostatic modules?often composed of very different physical and chemical processes?into synthetic materials, numerous interactive behaviors can be obtained, opening avenues for designing multifunctional materials. How a variety of controlled, nontrivial material responses can be evoked from even simple versions of such synthetic feedback modules is illustrated. Moreover, random events causing seemingly random responses give insights into how one can further explore, understand and control the full interaction space. Ultimately, material fabrication and exploration of interactivity become inseparable in the rational design of such materials. Homeostasis provides a lens through which one can learn how to combine and perturb coupled processes across time and length scales to conjure up exciting behaviors for new materials that are both robust and interactive.


doi: 10.1002/adma.201905554