Collaborative Research Centre 1459

Intelligent matter: From responsive to adaptive nanosystems

Intelligence is the ability to perceive information and to retain it as knowledge to be applied towards adaptive behaviour within a changing environment. This CRC is inspired by the question whether synthetic matter can provide artificial building blocks to enable intelligent abilities. Such intelligent matter would provide entirely new opportunities for instance for the development of artificial skin that self-regulates temperature and absorbance; soft robotics with adaptive tactility; and brain-inspired computing with reduced energy consumption. Intelligent matter likely requires an integrated system of materials and nanoscale components. Hence, the central scientific question of this CRC is: How does intelligent behaviour emerge in a system of nanoscale building blocks that operate collectively?

© Pernice Group

In the first funding period, we will move beyond responsive matter to adaptive matter. Responsive matter contains embedded responsive building blocks that induce a change in properties upon exposure to an external stimulus, whereas adaptive matter has the additional capability to process feedback to regulate its properties. In our long-term vision, we will develop intelligent matter which can interact with its environment, self-regulates its properties and learns from the input it receives. Intelligent matter relies on the capability i) to receive input from the environment; ii) to answer with output to the environment; iii) to distribute signals and feedback in embedded networks; and iv) to provide memory as a route for signal storage and learning. Our objective for the first funding period is the realization of these key functional elements in three classes of adaptive matter (adaptive molecular systems (A); adaptive soft materials (B); adaptive solid-state nanosystems (C)) which have strongly different degrees of dynamics, organization and addressability of the constituent nanoscale components. By implementing the key functional elements in adaptive matter, we will lay the foundations for the development of matter with learning capability (in the second funding period) and ultimately prototypes of intelligent matter (in the third funding period). We emphasize that the integration of different material classes and key functional elements poses a phenomenal scientific challenge that requires new chemical and physical concepts to assemble nanoscale building blocks at multiple length and time scales.

Conceptual Design of the CRC 1459

CRC 1459 Concept Image
© CRC 1459

Research area A: Adaptive molecular systems

A01 New photoswitches for integration in adaptive nanosystems
A02 Control of the primary and secondary structure in synthetic polymers to access adaptive soft materials
A03 Interfacing self-assembly and multiple stimuli to create adaptive behaviour
A04 Developing tunable triplet emitters towards adaptive electroluminescent materials
A05 Light-controlled anion-binding adaptive supramolecular systems
A06 A semi-synthetic nanosystem for programmable control of output based on rational design and directed evolution


Research area B: Adaptive soft materials

B01 Towards intelligent light-propelled nano- and microsystems
B02 Adaptive polymer morphologies through reversible block fragmentation
B03 Molecular control of adaptive interfaces and hierarchical soft matter
B04 Multistimuli sensing with memory and feedback function using photoswitchable proteins and coordination chemistry
B05 Adaptive cell-matrix nanosystems


Reseach area C: Adaptive solid-state nanosystems

C02 Opto-electronic neuromorphic architectures
C03 Self-assembly of hybrid nanostructures for neuromorphic electronics
C04 Adaptive magnonic networks for nanoscale reservoir computing
C05 Coherent nanophotonic neural networks with adaptive molecular systems
C06 Mixed-mode in-memory computing using adaptive phase-change materials