With the advent of 2D graphene in 2004, two-dimensional carbon-based materials became a reality, and currently represent one of the most studied topics in science involving many other elements of the Periodic Table. However, the seminal discovery that started the revolution of carbon nanoforms was the discovery of 0D fullerenes in 1985, which was followed by a variety of other new forms of carbon, namely 1D carbon nanotubes (single and multi-walled), endohedral fullerenes (having a chemical species in the inner cavity), carbon nanohorns, carbon nanoonions and other less-common, and now emerging nanocarbons which, altogether, drew a new scenario of carbon nanostructures that has strongly attracted the interest of the scientific community.
The aforementioned carbon nanoforms have played a central role in the development of groundbreaking advanced materials for application in a variety of fields such as optoelectronic devices, spintronics and solar cells, just to name a few. Actually, around these carbon-based materials a huge synthetic work has been developed by the chemical community in order to efficiently optimize the search for potential applications, namely in the multidisciplinary field of nanotechnology. In contrast, carbon nanostructures have been significantly less used for bio-medical applications. A plausible reason for this could be due to their scarcity or total lack of solubility in the biological aqueous media. However, as nicely shown in this book, solubility of carbon nanostructures in water has been fully achieved by means of the many successful chemical strategies developed for chemical functionalization. Remarkable examples can be found in the following chapters with amazingly huge carbon nanostructures soluble in water.
The great effort devoted to employ chemically modified fullerenes for biological applications has allowed one to address the wide variety of emergent nanoforms of carbon. The resulting innovative materials have been judiciously used for a variety of applications in the fields of biology and medicine. Carbon nanomaterials are quite unique biocompatible platforms for the development of multifunctional systems for a wide variety of applications whose potential is shown in the different chapters collected in this book, ranging from drug delivery systems to cell growth bioactive substrates.
The origin of this book is based on the previous great experience of the three editors of this book of editing a special issue in the Journal of Materials Chemistry B entitled “Carbon nanostructures in biology and medicine” in 2017. The success of this special issue (J. Mater. Chem. B, 2017, 5, 6425) containing 25 original works (and some authors of which have now participated in this book), encouraged us to embark on this new and pleasant venture.
As the editors of this book, we are fully convinced that it should be of interest for the specialists in the field as well as an encouraging updated reference for those non-specialists. The variety of topics contained in these chapters written by specialists represents a useful source of information on a top scientific field. We also strongly believe that this book will stimulate the imagination and inspiration of those scientists engaged in the fields of carbon nanostructures and biomedical applications.
We would like to thank all the contributors to this book, which gather two apparently orthogonal fields, who enthusiastically accepted to participate in this appealing venture. We would also like to extend our gratitude to all those colleagues cited in the book for their inspiring works. This gratitude is also for the Royal Society of Chemistry and, in particular, for the staff of the RSC involved in this venture. Their continuous support, dedication and enthusiasm have been essential in making this book a wonderful reality.
Tatiana Da Ros