Interfacing Inorganic Nanowire Arrays and Living Cells for Cellular Function Analysis

Minsuk Kwak, Lin Han, Jonathan J. Chen, Rong Fan

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

50 Citations (Scopus)


Inorganic nanowires are among the most attractive functional materials, which have emerged in the past two decades. They have demonstrated applications in information technology and energy conversion, but their utility in biological or biomedical research remains relatively under-explored. Although nanowire-based sensors have been frequently reported for biomolecular detection, interfacing nanowire arrays and living mammalian cells for the direct analysis of cellular functions is a very recent endeavor. Cell-penetrating nanowires enabled effective delivery of biomolecules, electrical and optical stimulation and recording of intracellular signals over a long period of time. Non-penetrating, high-density nanowire arrays display rich interactions between the nanostructured substrate and the micro/nanoscale features of cell surfaces. Such interactions enable efficient capture of rare cells including circulating tumor cells and trafficking leukocytes from complex biospecimens. It also serves as a platform for probing cell traction force and neuronal guidance. The most recent advances in the field that exploits nanowire arrays (both penetrating and non-penetrating) to perform rapid analysis of cellular functions potentially for disease diagnosis and monitoring are reviewed. Rapid analysis of cellular functions with inorganic nanowire arrays is highlighted. Cell-penetrating nanowires permit physical delivery of biomolecules and continuous recording of intracellular signals. Non-penetrating nanowires interact with the nanoscale surface features of living cells that lead to efficient capture of rare cell populations including circulating tumor cells for disease diagnosis and monitoring.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5600-5610
Number of pages11
Issue number42
Publication statusPublished - 2015 Nov 1

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
M.K. and L.L. contributed equally to this work. The authors acknowledge support from the Dana Farber Physical Sciences Oncology Center – Single Cell Profiling Core (NIH U54 CA143798 sub‐award to R.F.), the Alzheimer Association Early Investigator Award, and the U.S. National Cancer Institute Howard Temin Pathway to Independence Award (NIH R00 CA136759 to R.F.).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biotechnology
  • Biomaterials
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Materials Science(all)


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