Foundations for Soft, Smart Matter by Active Mechanical Metamaterials

Maya Pishvar, Ryan L. Harne

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


Emerging interest to synthesize active, engineered matter suggests a future where smart material systems and structures operate autonomously around people, serving diverse roles in engineering, medical, and scientific applications. Similar to biological organisms, a realization of active, engineered matter necessitates functionality culminating from a combination of sensory and control mechanisms in a versatile material frame. Recently, metamaterial platforms with integrated sensing and control have been exploited, so that outstanding non-natural material behaviors are empowered by synergistic microstructures and controlled by smart materials and systems. This emerging body of science around active mechanical metamaterials offers a first glimpse at future foundations for autonomous engineered systems referred to here as soft, smart matter. Using natural inspirations, synergy across disciplines, and exploiting multiple length scales as well as multiple physics, researchers are devising compelling exemplars of actively controlled metamaterials, inspiring concepts for autonomous engineered matter. While scientific breakthroughs multiply in these fields, future technical challenges remain to be overcome to fulfill the vision of soft, smart matter. This Review surveys the intrinsically multidisciplinary body of science targeted to realize soft, smart matter via innovations in active mechanical metamaterials and proposes ongoing research targets that may deliver the promise of autonomous, engineered matter to full fruition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2001384
JournalAdvanced Science
Issue number18
StatePublished - Sep 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • General Chemical Engineering
  • General Materials Science
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology (miscellaneous)
  • General Engineering
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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