Adaptive behaviors ranging from self-assembly to self-healing showcase the ability of such systems to sense and adapt to dynamic environments based on signaling between living cells. This signaling takes on many forms--biochemical, mechanical, and electrical--and uncovering it has become as much the purview of regenerative medicine as of fundamental biology. We cannot reverse-engineer native tissues if we do not understand the fundamental design rules and principles that govern their assembly from the bottom up (1). Movement is fundamental to many living systems and driven primarily by skeletal muscle in human bodies. Disease or damage that limits the functionality of skeletal muscle severely affects human health, mobility, and quality of life.
Along with an entire generation of comic book fans, Chao Wang grew up following the exploits of Wolverine, a.k.a Now an assistant professor of chemistry at University of Califormia, Riverside, Wang recently paid tribute to his childhood hero, in a chemical engineering sort of way. Wang and a group of collaborators have developed a transparent and stretchable material that could give future robots the ability to heal rapidly, similar to Wolverine's handy superpower. According to the research team, the space-age material could power artificial muscles that mend themselves after injury or normal wear-and-tear. Researchers say that the artificial skin represents the first time scientists have created an ionic conductor that's stretchable, transparent and able to heal itself.