1. Next Tuesday in the Victoria & Albert Museum.


  2. thisis2012:

    Touch-sensitive plastic skin heals itself

    Nobody knows the remarkable properties of human skin like the researchers struggling to emulate it. Not only is our skin sensitive, sending the brain precise information about pressure and temperature, but it also heals efficiently to preserve a protective barrier against the world. Combining these two features in a single synthetic material presented an exciting challenge for Stanford Chemical Engineering Professor Zhenan Bao and her team. Now, they have succeeded in making the first material that can both sense subtle pressure and heal itself when torn or cut. Their findings will be published on November 11 in the journal Nature Nanotechnology.

    A team of Stanford chemists and engineers has created the first synthetic material that is both sensitive to touch and capable of healing itself quickly and repeatedly at room temperature. The advance could lead to smarter prosthetics or more resilient personal electronics that repair themselves.

    Read complete article at Phys.org.



  4. Protocell Shoe Mends Itself

    The self-repairing sole is a dynamic solution to an everyday problem.

    The ‘proto-sole’ is suitable for all footwear ranging from mainstream consumer trainers to haute couture footwear. It consists of a fluid reservoir, like a bubble, which is situated in the heel of the shoe, where the ingredients to make the active agents ‘protocells’ are pumped by the foot and mixed on demand as they leave the storage vessel. The newly formed protocells move through the spongy sole of the shoe where they are delivered to and activated at sites of wear and tear.

    Read the complete article in Next Nature.


  5. Visionary architects’ bold plans to green the planet

    Petrol stations that grow biofuels and Protocells that save Venice — visionary architects are putting science at the heart of their bold plans to green the planet.

    Read the complete article by Nick Ryan in Wired.


  6. Protocell Video by Michael Simon Toon

    Protocells from MST on Vimeo.

    Self assembling chemical systems without DNA, which is generally thought of as the molecule that programs all aspects of the behaviors of natural cells. These simple ‘protocells’ are made up of a very small number of chemicals, yet they are able to sense their environment, modify it, and exhibit complex life-like behavior such as shedding skins.

    Protocell creation and video production 
    Dr Rachel Armstrong

    Editing, sound and post-production
    Michael Simon Toon


  7. Living Architecture

    Rachel Armstrong talks about how using artificial cells can create create responsive buildings for the harsh 21st century.

    Read the complete article written by Simon Sellars for Australian Design Review. December 19, 2011.


  8. Photo: Oil Droplets by Mike Gorton Photography

    Oil droplets mimic early life

    Lack of genetic material no hindrance to life-like behaviour.

    Oil droplets that creep purposefully through their watery environment, metabolize fuel, sense their surroundings and perhaps even replicate — could these be precursors to life? That’s the claim of a chemist with a controversial approach to modelling how Earth’s first organisms scraped themselves together.

    Read the entire article written by Jo Marchant for Nature, International Weekly Journal of Science. February 23, 2011.


  9. The Line Bewteen Life and Not-Life

    Martin Hanczyc gives a fantastic TED talk on “The Line Between Life and Not-Life,” specifically highlighting his research into creating “protocells,” bundles of simple chemicals that exhibit complex, emergent, “life-like” behaviors.

    "We consider first that life has a body. Now this is necessary to distinguish the self from the environment. Life also has a metabolism. Now this is a process by which life can convert resources from the environment into building blocks so it can maintain and build itself. Life also has a kind of inheritable information. Now we, as humans, we store our information as DNA in our genomes and we pass this information on to our offspring. If we couple the first two — the body and the metabolism — we can come up with a system that could perhaps move and replicate, and if we coupled these now to inheritable information, we can come up with a system that would be more lifelike, and would perhaps evolve. And so these are the things we will try to do in the lab, make some experiments that have one or more of these characteristics of life.”

    Watch the video on TED.