High Aspect Ratio-Nanostructured Surfaces as Biological Metamaterials

Stuart Higgins, Michele Becce, Alexis Belessiotis-Richards, Hyejeong Seong, Julia Sero, Molly Stevens

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

159 Citations (SciVal)
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Materials patterned with high-aspect-ratio nanostructures have features on similar length scales to cellular components. These surfaces are an extreme topography on the cellular level and have become useful tools for perturbing and sensing the cellular environment. Motivation comes from the ability of high-aspect-ratio nanostructures to deliver cargoes into cells and tissues, access the intracellular environment, and control cell behavior. These structures directly perturb cells' ability to sense and respond to external forces, influencing cell fate, and enabling new mechanistic studies. Through careful design of their nanoscale structure, these systems act as biological metamaterials, eliciting unusual biological responses. While predominantly used to interface eukaryotic cells, there is growing interest in nonanimal and prokaryotic cell interfacing. Both experimental and theoretical studies have attempted to develop a mechanistic understanding for the observed behaviors, predominantly focusing on the cell–nanostructure interface. This review considers how high-aspect-ratio nanostructured surfaces are used to both stimulate and sense biological systems.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1903862
JournalAdvanced Materials
Issue number9
Early online date16 Jan 2020
Publication statusPublished - 5 Mar 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
S.G.H. and M.M.S. acknowledge support from the ERC Seventh Framework Programme Consolidator Grant ?Naturale CG' (616417) and a Wellcome Trust Senior Investigator Award (098411/Z/12/Z). M.M.S. and M.B. acknowledge support from The Rosetrees Trust and The Stoneygate Trust. A.B.R. acknowledges a studentship from the EPSRC CDT for the Advanced Characterization of Materials (EP/L015277/1)?. H.S. acknowledges funding from the Basic Science Research Program through the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) funded by the Ministry of Education (2017R1A6A3A03007397). S.G.H. acknowledges the many helpful discussions with Dr. Spencer Crowder and colleagues within the Stevens Group; the support of Sabrina Skeete and Dr. Ben Pierce; and Dr. Akemi Nogiwa for extensive proofreading and publishing support. While every attempt was made to locate papers, the authors apologize to any researchers whose work has inadvertently been omitted.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim


  • biological metamaterials
  • high-aspect-ratio nanostructures
  • nanoneedles
  • nanopillars
  • nanowires

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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