The Manufacturing Immortality Project is a three-year project, funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), that will investigate the development of new materials made up of biological and non-biological parts which are capable of self-healing.
Initially the project will focus on creating materials for use in inaccessible places such as deep-sea cables or radioactive sites, but in the future the research could lead to consumer goods such as mobile phones with self-healing screens.
The EPSRC-funded consortium is made up of experts from the University of Bristol, Sheffield Hallam University, University of Manchester, Cranfield University, University of Aberdeen, Lancaster University and Northumbria University.
Dr Paul Race, Principal Investigator and a Biochemist at the University of Bristol said:
"This is a hugely exciting project that leverages the combined expertise of researchers across seven universities and 13 companies to deliver truly transformative self-healing technologies for use across a range of application areas.
"The aim of the Manufacturing Immortality consortium is to create new materials which have the ability to regenerate - or are very difficult to break - by combining bio and non-biological composites, such as bacteria with ceramics, glass and electronics.
"This research has the potential to lead to some truly ground-breaking developments which could have a huge impact on our everyday lives - such as smartphone screens which have the ability to 'self-heal' if they are cracked or damaged.
"Our ultimate ambition it that the outcomes of this project will significantly contribute to positioning the UK as a world leader in innovative manufacturing technologies."
Dr Paul Bingham, reader in materials engineering and Sheffield Hallam's project lead, said:
"This is a substantial and important project and SHU is proud to be part of this team with other leading institutions. The team hopes that within the next 18 months we will start to see some very exciting results which, by the end of the three-year project, could well be fully functioning devices and materials."