• microfabrication;
  • porous silicon;
  • biomaterials;
  • nanoparticles;
  • drug delivery


Porous silicon (pSi) is emerging as a promising material in the development of nanovectors for the systemic delivery of therapeutic and imaging agents. The integration of photolithographic patterning, typical of the semiconductor industry, with electrochemical silicon etching provides a highly flexible strategy to fabricate monodisperse and precisely tailored nanovectors. Here, a microfabrication strategy for direct lithographic patterning of discoidal pSi particles is presented that enables precise and independent control over particle size, shape, and porous structure. Discoidal pSi nanovectors with diameters ranging from 500 to 2600 nm, heights from 200 to 700 nm, pore sizes from 5 to 150 nm, and porosities from 40 to 90% are demonstrated. The degradation in serum, interaction with immune and endothelial cells in vitro, and biodistribution in mice bearing breast tumors are assessed for two discoidal nanovectors with sizes of 600 nm × 400 nm and 1000 nm × 400 nm. It is shown that both particle types are degraded after 24 h of continuous gentle agitation in serum, do not stimulate cytokine release from macrophages or affect endothelial cell viability, and accumulate up to about 10% of the injected dose per gram tissue in orthotopic murine models of breast cancer. The accumulation of the discoidal pSi nanovectors into the breast tumor mass is found to be up to five times higher than for spherical silica beads with similar diameters.