Autonomous Materials

In the 20th century, automation revolutionized countless industries using macroscale machines and relying heavily on sensors, computers, and actuators. We now stand at the cusp of a new revolution. Just as self-assembly in biology directs how cells behave to govern life itself, self-assembly in molecular engineering looks at how organic and bio-inspired materials can create organized structures spontaneously—based on information encoded in the molecules of the material.

At the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering, we are at the forefront of autonomous materials research. Faculty study how certain macromolecules can be made to self-assemble into useful forms of soft matter that perform tasks on the nano- and micro-scale that, until now, have not been possible.

This work, standing at the intersection where biology, chemistry, and physics converge, could lead to new generations of electronic, biomedical, mechanical, and memory devices that decrease manufacturing costs. Here, you will study how materials self-assemble on demand, self-healing mechanisms in chemistry-based systems, and materials systems that grow and evolve in the body.

To help perform this cutting-edge research, our students have access to the state-of-the-art cleanroom fabrication facility at the William Eckhardt Research Center, complementing our ongoing research at the Center for Nanoscale Materials at Argonne National Laboratory.

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