A seven-institution consortium, including the University of Bristol, has received £2.7mn (US$3.65mn) in funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.
The consortium will be running the three year-long Manufacturing Immortality Project, which will conduct the development of new, self-healing materials, incorporating both biological and non-biological parts.
The materials will be designed for use in inaccessible places, such as deep-sea cables and radioactive sites.
Subsequent to more research, it is expected the materials could be used for consumer goods as well, such as self-healing screens for mobile phones.
The consortium also includes experts from the University of Manchester, University of Aberdeen, Sheffield Hallam University, Cranfield University, Lancaster University, and Northumbria University.
“This is a hugely exciting project that leverages the combined expertise of researchers across seven universities and 13 companies to deliver truly transformative self-healing technologies for use across a range of application areas,” commented Principal Investigator and a Biochemist at the University of Bristol, Dr Paul Race.
“The aim of the Manufacturing Immortality consortium is to create new materials which have the ability to regenerate – or are very difficult to break - by combining bio and non-biological composites, such as bacteria with ceramics, glass and electronics.
"This research has the potential to lead to some truly ground-breaking developments which could have a huge impact on our everyday lives – such as smartphone screens which have the ability to ‘self-heal’ if they are cracked or damaged.
“Our ultimate ambition it that the outcomes of this project will significantly contribute to positioning the UK as a world leader in innovative manufacturing technologies.”