Inorganic Nanocrystals and Biointerfaces
Properties such as fluorescence, superparamagnetism, photothermal effects and surface plasmon resonance provided by several inorganic nanocrystals make them very valuable for applications in various fields of medical science and biotechnology. A better understanding of the interactions and the phenomena that occur on the surface of the nanocrystals in complex biological environments is essential for further advances in the design of effective and safe nanomedicines. The first part of this chapter is dedicated to the description of the interactions between the surface of nanocrystals and the biological environment (nano–bio interface). The influence of the properties of nanocrystals on the formation of the protein corona and its specificities is discussed for nanocrystals of diverse composition. The main characteristics of the ligands that are typically employed to modify the surface of the nanocrystals and to impart targeting, imaging and therapeutic functionalities, among others, are introduced and described. An updated overview of the most common strategies for surface functionalization and bioconjugation at the nanoscale is provided.