Carbon Nanotubes: Basics, Biocompatibility, and Bio-Applications Including Their Use as a Scaffold in Cell Culture Systems

Carbon Nanotubes: Basics, Biocompatibility, and Bio-Applications Including Their Use as a Scaffold in Cell Culture Systems

Towseef Amin Rafeeqi (Central Research Institute in Unani Medicine, India)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-6304-6.ch003


Carbon-based nanotechnology has been rapidly developing, with a particular interest in the bio-application of carbon nanotubes (CNTs) as a scaffold in tissue engineering. It is essential that the materials used in scaffold fabrication are compatible with cells, as well as with the biological milieu. Many synthetic polymers have been used for tissue engineering so far; however, many lack the necessary mechanical strength and may not be easily functionalized, in contrast to CNTs, which have shown very attractive features as a scaffold for cell culture system. In spite of many attractive features, the toxicity of CNTs is a prime concern. The potential applications of CNTs seem countless, although few have reached a marketable status so far and there is need of more studies on CNTs biocompatibility issues. This chapter aims to revisit the basics of CNTs with their bio-applications including their use as a scaffold in cell culture systems.
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Carbon Nanotubes (CNTs)

Carbon nanotubes have been synthesized for a long time as products originating from the thermal decomposition of hydrocarbons. However following the discovery of carbon nanotubes by lijima (1991), carbon-based nanotechnology has been rapidly developing as a platform technology for a variety of uses including biomedical applications. Carbon nanotubes are hollow graphitic cylinders of nanoscale dimensions of different types (Figure 1). They are electrically conductive, chemically and thermally stable, and exceptionally strong and these properties are defined by their diameter, length, and chirality or twist. Given this unique combination of properties there has been much interest in CNTs, and finding applications for them. An emerging area that is generating particular interest is the use of carbon nanotubes in tissue engineering with the expanding range of tissue types being considered.

Figure 1.

Schematic representation of graphite sheets and different forms of carbon nanotubes. (a) Graphite, showing graphene sheets (b) single-walled carbon nanotube (SWNT), conceptually a SWNT is formed by rolling up graphene to form a cylinder (c) multi-walled carbon nanotube (MWNT) and (d) functionalized carbon nanotube (COOH- labelled).


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