If there’s one word that synonymises the advancements of the twenty-first century, it has to be “smart”. This trend for smarter technologies extends beyond electronic devices and into the materials that create them. In materials science, smart materials have been a fascinating field of study for decades, and it’s one that continues to grow in popularity among design engineers. Here, Ben Smye, Head of Growth at materials database Matmatch, explores some key technologies, materials and applications at the heart of the smart material boom.

There is a growing interest in the development of smart materials, and products that use them. The global market for smart materials, according to ReportLinker’s 2017 Global Smart Materials Market Analysis, is currently growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 13 per cent and will be valued at $73.9 billion by 2023. That’s steady growth, which brings countless new opportunities for design engineers and product designers.

These opportunities are more varied than you might think. From bicomponent fibres that consist of two different materials, to chromic materials that change colour and even materials with the capacity to self-heal, here are some of the most striking innovations.

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