Over the last decade, the explosion in research and Development associated with
nanoscalar materials has continued apace. In parallel with this has been the
rapid rise of both sustainable materials and, as a consequence, Natural,
Cellular and Responsive material systems. Many of these originate from
inorganic, inorganic-organic hybrid composites and polymeric and bio-nano
polymeric systems which exhibit intrinsic physico-chemical properties that can
be classed as ‘soft’. That is flexible, malleable,
lightweight, transparent or semi-transparent and stretchable in character and
which can also offer both biocompatible and bioresorbable characteristics
essential to useable and sustainable material systems.
This paper describes some of the ways in which we are beginning to understand,
explain and exploit ‘soft’ technology. In particular the
interactive role of creative design and innovative material science linked
through new fabrication methodologies that have, as their common purpose, a
focus on compelling Human centred needs. Examples are health, wellness, ambient
assistance and urgent improvements in cleanliness, hygiene and nutrition.