From matter to x-matter: Exploring the newfound capacities of information-enhanced materials

Blaine Brownell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


The physical materials and processes used to design and construct the built environment reveal the growing application of information technology enhancements. Such materials and methods effectively represent a kind of expanded matter (x-matter), insofar as their functionality has been augmented with increased capabilities not found in their traditional, unembellished counterparts. Despite the importance of this transformation, which has been fueled by the growth of communications and computing technologies, there is a lack of scholarship concerning a holistic evaluation of this phenomenon and its future implications-particularly from the perspective of material-focused fields such as architecture and product design. This essay therefore offers a concise proposal for a comprehensive framework in which to understand the evolving relationships between matter and information, aimed towards individuals within built environment-related disciplines. Fundamental areas of material-information interaction, or capacities of x-matter, are illustrated by representative examples, in addition to considerations of historical precedents and future opportunities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1238-1247
Number of pages10
JournalMaterials and Design
StatePublished - Nov 5 2014

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Elsevier Ltd.

Copyright 2016 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Information architecture
  • Internet of Things
  • Radical atoms
  • Tangible bits


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