Materials of the future will exhibit bio-inspired behavior that enables a range of novel applications. We review computational studies on reactive gels that reveal how to tailor the gels and external stimuli to impart this biomimetic functionality. For example, photo-responsive gels can be ‘molded’ by light into various three-dimensional shapes, permitting a single sample to have multiple uses. Reactive gels undergoing the Belousov–Zhabotinsky (BZ) reaction ‘communicate’ to form self-rotating gears, which could perform autonomous work. Finally, nanorod-filled reactive gels effectively regenerate the gel matrix when a layer of the material is sliced-off and thus, dramatically extend the material's life time.

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DOI: 10.1016/j.mattod.2014.06.003