JPCM topical review round-up part 1: Semiconducting nanowires and the living cell

Axons on a nanowire-patterned surface

Axons from superior cervical ganglia on the nanowire-patterned surface. Prinz et al Nanotechnology 19 345101.

In the first installment of JPCM’s topical review round-up, I’ll be looking back at 6 articles published this year. They cover a wide range of topics from this post, about the interaction between nanowires and cells, to the intriquing properties of topological superconductors.

Semiconducting nanowires have many interesting applications in a number of diverse industries, including biomolecule detection, cell transfection and cell detection. In each of these examples, semiconductor nanowires interact with living cells, so understanding both how these two entities affect each other, and the many parameters which affect their interaction, is fundamental to the development of these key medical applications.

This is the main focus of the review by Christelle N Prinz who discusses the effect of cell type, array geometry and nanowire material on the interaction with the living cell.

The influence of cell type is still one of the open questions of the field. It is poorly understood why different cell types interact differently with nanowires. In the review Prinz eludes to just some of the possible answers – cell motility, membrane receptors and cell proliferation rates may all play a part, but further investigation is required.

Another open question is by what process does the nanowire penetrate the cell membrane? This is particularly important for applications where it is essential the cell remains intact. Sedimentation, adhesion and endocytosis are all contenders, but no definitive answers are known.

To find out how these parameters affect the interaction between semiconductor wires and living cells, you can read this comprehensive review for free here.

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Image in post adapted from Prinz et al Nanotechnology 19 345101. Copyright IOP Publishing 2008.

Categories: Journal of Physics: Condensed Matter

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