Programmable matter is a new category of materials that can physically change their shape or appearance in response to a signal. This signal can be an external input like light, heat, or electricity, or an internal trigger like a chemical reaction. Once programmed, these materials can retain their new form or function indefinitely. Applications for programmable matter are still in development, but potential uses include self-assembling furniture, shape-changing displays, and adaptive clothing.
Some of the emerging trends in programmable matter research include the development of new materials that can be programmed to change their properties, the use of machine learning to control programmable matter, and the use of programmable matter to create self-healing materials.