The purpose of this highlight is to define the emerging field of bioactive surfaces. In recent years, various types of synthetic materials capable of “communicating” with biological objects such as nucleic acids, proteins, polysaccharides, viruses, bacteria or living cells have been described in the literature. This novel area of research certainly goes beyond the traditional field of smart materials and includes different types of sophisticated interactions with biological entities, such as reversible adhesion, conformational control, biologically-triggered release and selective permeation. These novel materials may be 2D planar surfaces as well as colloidal objects or 3D scaffolds. Overall, they show great promise for numerous applications in biosciences and biotechnology. For instance, practical applications of bioactive surfaces in the fields of bioseparation, cell engineering, biochips and stem-cell differentiation are briefly discussed herein.
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