Chul Chung,† Young-Kwan Kim,† Dolly Shin , Soo-Ryoon Ryoo , Byung Hee Hong *, and Dal-Hee Min *
Department of Chemistry, College of Natural Sciences, Seoul National University, Seoul, Korea
*To whom correspondence should be addressed. Byung Hee Hong, Dal-Hee Min
†C.C. and Y.-K.K. contributed equally to this work.
Graphene has unique mechanical, electronic, and optical properties, which researchers have used to develop novel electronic materials including transparent conductors and ultrafast transistors. Recently, the understanding of various chemical properties of graphene has facilitated its application in high-performance devices that generate and store energy. Graphene is now expanding its territory beyond electronic and chemical applications toward biomedical areas such as precise biosensing through graphene-quenched fluorescence, graphene-enhanced cell differentiation and growth, and graphene-assisted laser desorption/ionization for mass spectrometry. In this Account, we review recent efforts to apply graphene and graphene oxides (GO) to biomedical research and a few different approaches to prepare graphene materials designed for biomedical applications.
Because of its excellent aqueous processability, amphiphilicity, surface functionalizability, surface enhanced Raman scattering (SERS), and fluorescence quenching ability, GO chemically exfoliated from oxidized graphite is considered a promising material for biological applications. In addition, the hydrophobicity and flexibility of large-area graphene synthesized by chemical vapor deposition (CVD) allow this material to play an important role in cell growth and differentiation.
The lack of acceptable classification standards of graphene derivatives based on chemical and physical properties has hindered the biological application of graphene derivatives. The development of an efficient graphene-based biosensor requires stable biofunctionalization of graphene derivatives under physiological conditions with minimal loss of their unique properties. For the development graphene-based therapeutics, researchers will need to build on the standardization of graphene derivatives and study the biofunctionalization of graphene to clearly understand how cells respond to exposure to graphene derivatives. Although several challenging issues remain, initial promising results in these areas point toward significant potential for graphene derivatives in biomedical research.