Nanofiber Biomaterials

  • Rachelle N. Palchesko
  • Yan Sun
  • Ling Zhang
  • John M. Szymanski
  • Quentin Jallerat
  • Adam W. Feinberg
Part of the Springer Handbooks book series (SHB)


Since its inception, the field of tissue engineering has sought to rebuild the complexity of normal tissues by seeding cells onto scaffolds to support the formation of new tissue. Recently, nanofibers have gained increasing attention because these biomaterials have unique properties and are able to interface with cells at the same scale as native extracellular matrix fibrils. New fabrication technologies provide novel ways to control the nanoscale structure and properties of biomaterials, which is advantageous in the engineering of tissues for in vitro study and in vivo applications in regenerative medicine. This chapter explores the properties of nanofiber biomaterials (diameters <500  nm) and examines the specific advantages relative to other scaffold materials. This includes nanofibers from biopolymers as well as synthetic polymers, with consideration of relative advantages and disadvantages. A range of fabrication strategies is discussed that span from fiber spinning techniques, to phase separation in bulk, to directed and self-assembly. Insight is provided as to how synthetic polymers and biopolymers are used to make these nanofibers and the specific molecular structures that impart the unique mechanical, electrical, chemical, and biological properties. Analysis of these nanofiber biomaterials requires characterization techniques that are able to probe at the nanometer, micrometer, and macroscales. Examples are provided using optical microscopy, electron microscopy, scanning probe microscopy, mechanical characterization, and as sessment of biocompatibility and biodegradation. Finally, nanofiber biomaterials have wide applications in tissue engineering; here we focus on representative examples in cardiac, musculoskeletal, ophthalmic, and neural tissue engineering.







α-smooth muscle actin


atomic force microscopy


antigen-presenting cell


American Society for Testing and Materials




brain-derived neurotrophic factor


basic fibroblast growth factor


conductive camphorsulfonic acid-doped emeraldine PANI


collagen I


collagen IV




cross section




dendritic cell


differential interference contrast




deoxyribonucleic acid


dorsal root ganglion


extracellular matrix


energy-dispersive x-ray spectroscopy


embryonic stem cell


Food and Drug Administration




fluorescein isothiocyanate






IKVAV polyacrylamide


laminin derived self-assembling peptide








limbal stem cells


mesenchymal stem cell


nerve growth factor


neural stem cell


peptide amphiphile


poly(acrylic acid)




phosphate buffered saline








polyethylene glycol


poly(ethylene oxide)




poly(glycolic acid)


copolymer of PGA and PLLA


responsive poly(N-isopropylacrylamide)


poly-ethylene oxide


pulsed laser ablation


poly(lactic-co-glycolic) acid


poly(l-lactic) acid




pattern recognition receptor


polyvinyl alcohol


rabbit corneal fibroblast




rotary jet spinning


retinal progenitor cells


real-time polymerase chain reaction


self-assembled monolayer


standard deviation


scanning electron microscopy


silk fibroin


structured illumination microscopy


shape-memory alloy


stochastic optical reconstruction microscopy


transmission electron microscopy


transforming growth factor




tumor necrosis factor


human skeletal muscle cell


induced pluripotent stem cell


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Biomedical EngineeringCarnegie Mellon UniversityPittsburghUSA
  2. 2.School of Biological Science and Medical EngineeringBeihang University (BUAA)BeijingChina
  3. 3.Department of Biomedical EngineeringCarnegie Mellon UniversityPittsburghUSA
  4. 4.Department of Biomedical EngineeringCarnegie Mellon UniversityPittsburghUSA
  5. 5.Biomedical EngineeringCarnegie Mellon UniversityPittsburghUSA
  6. 6.Department of Biomedical EngineeringCarnegie Mellon UniversityPittsburghUSA

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