Recent far-reaching advances in synthetic biology have yielded exciting tools for the creation of new materials. Conversely, advances in the fundamental understanding of soft-condensed matter, polymers and biomaterials offer new avenues to extend the reach of synthetic biology. The broad and exciting range of possible applications have substantial implications to address grand challenges in health, biotechnology and sustainability. Despite the potentially transformative impact that lies at the interface of synthetic biology and biomaterials, the two fields have, so far, progressed mostly separately. This Perspective provides a review of recent key advances in these two fields, and a roadmap for collaboration at the interface between the two communities. We highlight the near-term applications of this interface to the development of hierarchically structured biomaterials, from bioinspired building blocks to 'living' materials that sense and respond based on the reciprocal interactions between materials and embedded cells.
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