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In recent years there has been increasing interest in the use of biomaterials to treat patients suffering from a wide range of injuries and diseases. Inorganic biomaterials are at the forefront of this movement, being both the most commonly used materials in the clinic, and key components of many of the exciting emerging technologies that are approaching applications in patients. In this book we will look at these materials from a unique perspective, by focussing on their underlying chemistry, how this ultimately dictates their properties and effectiveness, and the cutting-edge discoveries that are driving their continued evolution.

Metallic materials are particularly common, serving to fix broken bones, replace damaged joints, and fill dental cavities (Chapter 1). While some of these technologies have now been around for more than a century, as our ability to probe the structure, function, and biological interactions of materials at the molecular- and nanoscales has improved, so has our understanding of the key design principles that must be considered to produce a successful metallic implant.

Alongside improvements in these ‘traditional’ biomaterial technologies, there has also been an emergence of new and exciting applications of inorganic materials. Cements and glasses that seek to not only fill bone and dental defects, but also to serve as a scaffold for the deposition of new tissue are now prominent in the clinic, and many recent developments in their design promise to increase their relevance in coming years (Chapter 2). Recent efforts to design ‘organic–inorganic hybrids’ are particularly promising (Chapter 3), harnessing the beneficial properties of both material classes to recreate the structure of bone, a naturally occurring organic–inorganic hybrid. Bioelectronic and neural interface materials that can serve as bioelectronics for the treatment of brain injuries or as neural prosthetics are also at the cutting-edge of modern day medical research, with the potential to impact the lives of people suffering from debilitating conditions worldwide (Chapter 4).

Finally, we will consider a challenge that is common to all of these materials (and indeed all implants that are placed inside the body) – how the chemistry of the material affects its interactions with proteins, biomolecules, and cells, both host and bacterial (Chapter 5). Understanding and controlling these processes is critical to minimise the risk of bacterial infection and implant failure, and therefore ultimately dictates the fate of a biomaterial inside the body.

My thanks go out to the authors of each of the chapters of this book, who have worked tirelessly to produce the fascinating work you will read under challenging circumstances in the midst of a global pandemic. Thank you also to the team at the Royal Society of Chemistry, Robin Driscoll, Connor Sheppard, and Katie Morrey, and to the editors of the series, Duncan Bruce, Dermot O'Hare, and Richard Walton, for all of their help, support, and patience throughout the process. I hope you enjoy reading the book as much as I have enjoyed putting it together.

Chris Spicer

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