Emerging Smart Technologies

The UK has a world-class research base (academic and industrial) in smart materials and recent years have seen significant technical breakthroughs in this area. If successfully commercialised, these nascent technologies have the potential for major impact through applications for biological imaging and sensing, medical diagnostics and non destructive imaging of living tissue, medical implants, improved security, data storage, radar and communications technologies, sensors, solar energy harvesting and self healing components.

The Technology Strategy Board, in partnership with the Materials KTN, was seeking to establish the extent to which these new smart technologies are ready to be used in academia and industry, and whether and how their commercial availability can be accelerated.

The workshop was held to understand the readiness of the science, potential application areas, who the main academic and business players are and to identify the barriers to commercial use with a view to finding ways of overcoming them.  The scope was to identify areas where smart materials have not yet emerged but have the potential to be commercialised in a number of new or existing businesses to nucleate a new disruptive industry in the UK in a ten year timeframe.


The technologies that were focused on at the event were auxetics, metamaterials and printed self-ameliorating technology for composite structures:

Emerging Technologies and Industries Programme

Dr Fionnuala Costello, TSB

Introduction to the Smart  Materials Workshop

Dr Steve Morris, Materials KTN

Auxetics as an emerging technology to improve patient healthcare 

Dr Andrew Alderson, Sheffield Hallam University

Metamaterials and their use in manipulating radiation

Professor Ian Youngs, Dstl

Printed self-ameliorating technology for aircraft structures

Dr Jonathan Stringer, University of Sheffield


Following the presentations there were a series of breakout sessions as follows:

Breakout 1 - Technology Opportunities

  • What are the new technologies?
  • How ready are they to be put into practice?
  • Who is already involved?

Breakout 2 - Potential Application Areas

  • What are the application areas for each technology?
  • What businesses are interested in commercialising them?
  • What are the realistic timescales?

Breakout 3 - Barriers to Adoption:

  • What are the challenges to the widespread adoption of these new technologies
  • How might they be overcome?
  • What technical development is still required?


A report of the event including summaries of the presentations and details of the breakout discussions is available to members of _connect as a PDF.