Modeling the Interface between Biological and Synthetic Components in Hybrid Nanosystems
Hybrid structures that combine biological and inorganic materials are ubiquitous in the biosphere, from the carbonated hydroxyapatite that makes up the inorganic structure of bones to the calcium carbonate created by coral polyps and coralline algae that form the structure of coral reefs. The ability to design materials that are bio-compatible, or able to be incorporated into organisms without provoking an immune response, is important for medicine and therapeutics, for example, in prosthetics and implanted medical devices such as pacemakers. However, designing synthetic materials to interact favorably with biological components is made difficult by the fact that many biological processes, including immune response, are dictated by interactions betweeen biomolecules and their environment on the nanometer scale. Therefore, our ability to fabricate materials with nanometer precision would provide hope for a future in which man-made devices can easily interface with the biological world.