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Wenn Materie lebendig wird

Principal applicant: Leá Perraudin, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, cluster of excellence “Matters of Activity. Image Space Material”

Researchers from the cluster of excellence “Matters of Activity. Image Space Material” and “Science of Intelligence” have joined forces in the experimental laboratory “Wenn Materie lebendig wird” (when matter comes to life). They want to publicly discuss the intelligence of materials and make this a tangible experience. Our relationship to nature and technology is being fundamentally changed by materials which become, to all intents and purposes, intelligent participants in society following the example of nature as active matter. The smartphone can almost be considered as part of the human body; at the same time, increasingly novel clothing materials are imitating nature. Today, different types of technological equipment in our everyday lives interact independently with their environment, for example by means of modern sensor and motor technology or by using self-active, soft or smart materials.

The experimental laboratory uses playful formats to address people from three social groups in order to approach this future topic together with the cluster's researchers: school students, people from start-ups, management and politics, as well as people from the general public. A platform for digital learning modules and laboratories, which can be accessed using a virtual-reality headset, and a pop-up science station are two important components of this. In Flip Science events, postgraduates from the two clusters face off to defend their research as part of a playful competition in an unconventional and comprehensible manner. In addition, robotics workshops or fish bowl events for start-up companies are in the pipeline.

“What if...?” Open workshops in which designs are created and explored in hypothetical future scenarios based on three examples (soft-robotic hand, plant, shoe) represent the central element of the second phase of the experimental laboratory. True to the motto “Knowing by Doing”, the self-activity and intelligence of active materials is thus made comprehensible and tangible. The results of this transdisciplinary work will then be presented to the public as part of a joint exhibition at the Humboldt Forum.