Nanobiomaterials and Nanoanalysis: Opportunities for Improving the Science to Benefit Biomedical Technologies


  • Commentary from R. Finke (Colorado State University), H. Ghandehari (University of Maryland) and D. Furgeson (University of Wisconsin) is greatly appreciated. Technical assistance from Dr. Hironobu Takahashi is acknowledged. Support from NESAC/BIO (NIH Grant No. EB-002027), NIH Grant EB-001473 and NIH Grant GM-074511 is gratefully acknowledged.


Nanomaterials advocated for biomedical applications must exhibit well-controlled surface properties to achieve optimum performance in complex biological or physiological fluids. Dispersed materials with extremely high specific surface areas require as extensive characterization as their macroscale biomaterials analogues. However, current literature is replete with many examples of nanophase materials, most notably nanoparticles, with little emphasis placed on reporting rigorous surface analysis or characterization, or in formal implementation of surface property standards needed to validate structure-property relationships for biomedical applications. Correlations of nanophase surface properties with their stability, toxicity and biodistributions are essential for in vivo applications. Surface contamination is likely, given their processing conditions and interfacial energies. Leaching adventitious adsorbates from high surface area nanomaterials is a possible toxicity mechanism. Polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS), long known as a ubiquitous contaminant in clean room conditions, chemical synthesis and microfabrication, remains a likely culprit in nanosystems fabrication, especially in synthesis, soft lithography and contact molding methods. New standards and expectations for analyzing the interfacial properties of nanoparticles and nano-fabricated technologies are required. Surface science analytical rigor similar to that applied to biomedical devices, nanophases in microelectronics and heterogeneous catalysts should serve as a model for nanomaterials characterization in biomedical technologies.