Recently, there has been an outburst of research on engineered cell–material interfaces driven by nanotechnology and its tools and techniques. This tutorial review begins by providing a brief introduction to nanostructured materials, followed by an overview of the wealth of nanoscale fabrication and analysis tools available for their development. This background serves as the basis for a discussion of early breakthroughs and recent key developments in the endeavour to develop nanostructured materials as smart interfaces for fundamental cellular studies, tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. The review covers three major aspects of nanostructured interfaces – nanotopographical control, dynamic behaviour and intracellular manipulation and sensing – where efforts are continuously being made to further understand cell function and provide new ways to control cell behaviour. A critical reflection of the current status and future challenges are discussed as a conclusion to the review.
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