Biomaterials: The Intersection Of Biology And Materials Science
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Biomaterials: The Intersection of Biology and Materials Science
Biomaterials are materials that interact with biological systems for a medical purpose. They can be natural or synthetic, living or nonliving, and have applications in various fields such as tissue engineering, drug delivery, biosensors, implants, and wound healing. Biomaterials science is an interdisciplinary field that combines principles of materials science, biology, chemistry, engineering, and medicine to design and develop biomaterials that meet specific biological and clinical needs.
In this article, we will explore some of the key concepts and topics in biomaterials science, such as:
What are the main classes of biomaterials and their properties
How do biomaterials interact with the biological environment and what are the criteria for biocompatibility
What are some of the current and emerging applications of biomaterials in tissue engineering and regenerative medicine
What are some of the challenges and opportunities for biomaterials research and development
This article is based on the book Biomaterials: The Intersection of Biology and Materials Science by J.S. Temenoff and A.G. Mikos[^1^] [^2^], which is an excellent resource for students and professionals interested in learning more about biomaterials science.
Classes of Biomaterials
Biomaterials can be classified into four main categories based on their chemical composition: metals, ceramics, polymers, and composites. Each category has its own advantages and disadvantages depending on the intended application.
Metals are materials that consist of metallic elements or alloys (mixtures of two or more metals). Metals have high strength, stiffness, ductility (ability to deform without breaking), and conductivity. They are widely used as structural biomaterials for implants such as artificial joints, dental crowns, stents, pacemakers, and orthopedic screws. Some of the most common metals used in biomedical applications are stainless steel, titanium, cobalt-chromium, gold, silver, and platinum.
However, metals also have some drawbacks as biomaterials. They can corrode or degrade in the biological environment, releasing toxic ions or particles that can cause inflammation, infection, or allergic reactions. They can also induce unwanted electrical currents or magnetic fields that can interfere with other devices or tissues. Moreover, metals have a high modulus (resistance to deformation) compared to biological tissues, which can cause stress shielding (reduction of bone density) or mechanical mismatch (difference in mechanical behavior) at the interface between the implant and the host tissue.
Ceramics are materials that consist of nonmetallic elements or compounds that are bonded by ionic or covalent bonds. Ceramics have high hardness, wear resistance, biocompatibility (compatibility with living tissues), and stability in harsh environments. They are widely used as structural biomaterials for implants such as artificial bones, teeth, heart valves, cochlear implants, and bioceramic coatings. Some of the most common ceramics used in biomedical applications are alumina (aluminum oxide), zirconia (zirconium dioxide), hydroxyapatite (calcium phosphate), bioactive glass (silicate-based glass), and bioglass-ceramics (glass-ceramic composites).
However, ceramics also have some drawbacks as biomaterials. They have low toughness (resistance to fracture), ductility, and conductivity. They can also be brittle (prone to cracking) or porous (having pores or voids), which can compromise their mechanical integrity or allow bacterial infiltration. Moreover, ceramics have a high modulus compared to biological tissues, which can cause stress shielding or mechanical mismatch at the interface between the implant and the host tissue.
Polymers are materials that consist of long chains of repeating units called monomers that are bonded by covalent bonds. Polymers have low density, high flexibility, versatility (ability to be tailored for specific functions), and biodegradability (ability to be broken down by biological agents). They are widely used as structural biomaterials for implants such as artificial skin, blood vessels 061ffe29dd